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Beagle: Winter Classic excitement starting to set in

by Jay Beagle

Washington Capitals forward Jay Beagle is about to play in his second Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. Beagle suited up for the Capitals at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh in 2011, and he's expected to be in the lineup Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks at Nationals Park.

Beagle agreed to offer up his opinions in blog form leading up to the main event.

We had an optional practice today, which was good for us because it gave guys who needed a breather a chance to take one, and guys who wanted the opportunity to skate a chance to get on the ice for a loose practice.

Now that practice is over I am going to head out to lunch with my family. We've been on the road quite a bit of late so it'll be good to get some downtime with them. I've got my mom and dad in town as well as my mother-in-law. They're not here for long, so I have to make the most of it.

For us as a team this is about shifting the focus to tomorrow, to the practice day at Nationals Park. This is about shifting the focus to the Winter Classic. It's one of those things we've been preparing for since the start of the season, but it hasn't been the focus because it was not the next game on our schedule. It is the next game on our schedule now.

When we get to the ballpark tomorrow that's when it will hit me. It'll definitely hit me when I'm out there for practice. But to be honest we just have to make sure we stay focused and get a good practice in because that's why we're there, and that's what is most important. After practice we can spend some quality time with the family on the ice during the family skate, but the practice has to be crisp and good, and we have to get our bearings.

I don't think we necessarily have to figure anything out because we constantly adjust to new ice surfaces with all the rinks we play in, but obviously this will be different being that we'll be outdoors so we'll have to see if there is any glare, wind, all of that kind of stuff. It's always different when you're skating outdoors so it's a matter of getting used to that.

The other thing that I think is important is keeping with the same routine and staying level-headed. I'm usually pretty good at that so I don't anticipate waking up tomorrow feeling all kinds of antsy about getting to the rink, or the ballpark in this case, for practice.

Certain things will hit you, like it'll be cool to be on the outdoor ice, but it has to be another practice. I never get too excited or antsy for anything, not even playoffs. I don't think I will be that way for the game either. I wasn't for the game in Pittsburgh in 2011.

Of course I'll be excited and filled with adrenaline, but it's not crazy. It can't be. That would be counterproductive for me.

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