Nashville Predators forward Matt Duchene will keep his own blog throughout the 2020 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, held in Dallas, at Cotton Bowl Stadium on Wednesday (2 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVAS).
In his first entry, Duchene, who played in two previous NHL outdoor games, the 2016 Stadium Series for the Colorado Avalanche at Coors Field and the 2017 NHL 100 Classic for the Ottawa Senators, talks about preparing for the game. He also discusses how the game combines his two passions, hockey and country music.
The outdoor games I have played in have all been very different. This one, what's really cool is just the Western kind of decor around the outside, the fence posts, it's very Texas, which is very cool, and very Nashville, which is cool in a way too. It was really cool being out there. Great venue and the family skate was awesome. I almost wish we had a little longer practice to just have fun out there.
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My first outdoor game was really weird. I don't think I handled it the best way in terms of how I adapted to the different conditions, the different rink. The second one, I felt way better, way more comfortable because I had done it before. Hopefully it feels even better this time around. You get used to it, you get that experience and you just try to take it for what it is and not analyze too much of the differences of what you are used to.
They have two awesome artists playing here. I actually just met Dan + Shay a little while ago. They were doing an interview at Sirius XM in Nashville and I was up there just giving the hosts of a show a jersey, and they were in there, so I met them. And Midland is a really cool, brand new kind of throwback-kind-of-sound band. They are one of my dad's favorite actually, so he's pretty excited to see them play. For me, it's really neat. It brings so many of my passions together, I feel very lucky to be part of this one.
I think you have to approach the game with excitement, but also with determination. It's a business trip, it's not a fun trip, that's the way you have to look at it. We're going to have fun when we do it, but at the same time, we laid an egg last time against Dallas (a 4-1 home loss on Dec. 14), a terrible game, maybe our worst game of the year as a team. We lost a couple in a row here, but the last time we lost two in a row we had [points in five straight games]. We want to do that again. It starts right now getting ready for the game. This is a team that's a few points ahead of us. We have a few games in hand, and this is one game, it doesn't count as a game in hand, but it can count for a huge point swing, so this is massive for us.