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Capitals look to buck home-team trend at Classic

by Adam Vingan

WASHINGTON -- A thought crossed Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green’s mind as he prepared for the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic against the Chicago Blackhawks, so he sought an answer.

“I was curious how many home teams won,” he said after the Capitals practiced at Nationals Park on Wednesday.

The visitors have won five of the previous six NHL Winter Classics, including three straight. The Capitals are among them, having defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field in 2011.

A poll of Washington’s locker room produced varied responses, though the most prevalent was the presence of family and friends, making sure everyone and everything are taken care of.

“There has been a lot more, I guess you can call them distractions,” Green said. “Things going on that maybe can affect the home team, with family being here and certain things you need to do around the house or at home that maybe on the road you wouldn’t have to.”

Forward Brooks Laich said Tuesday that one of his teammates reserved 46 tickets for the game.

“I would guess that the home team has so many people in town that maybe it’s a distraction,” he said. “The visiting team, it’s just a road game. They come in, they play a road game, and they leave.”

Forward Troy Brouwer, who was a member of the Blackhawks when they lost to the Detroit Red Wings in 2009 at Wrigley Field, mentioned pre-game preparations, particularly adjusting to the unfamiliar surroundings of their one-game home.

“It’s a home game for us, but it almost feels like a road game while the visiting team knows it’s going to be a road game, so that might be play into it a little bit,” he said.

Leading up to New Year’s Day, the Capitals have made sure not to lose sight of the two points at stake. In the process, they would like to join the Boston Bruins as the only victorious home teams in the NHL Winter Classic.

“We’ve got to make sure we are the second one tomorrow,” Green said.

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