Friday, December 31, 2010

Winter Classic Postponed and More

Game moved to 8:00 PM Saturday

After a week of denial, the NHL has finally come to the realization that monsoon-like downpours and outdoor hockey just don't mix. So instead of starting at it's original time at 1 the game will be postponed until 8:00 in hopes of avoiding the rain. The latest forecasts call for a steady rain throughout the day tapering off late-afternoon so hopefully we will be high and dry by the time 8:00 rolls around. So here's the updated schedule:

Parking lots at Heinz Field open at 2:30
Spectator Plaza at Heinz opens at 3
Gates open at 5:30
Pregame festivities start around 7:30
Hopefully they can get the puck dropped by 8.

In the event that they cannot then they will postpone the game to Sunday at noon. There is also a whole list of strange scenarios involving in-game delays and calling the game. Basically, if the game is past 2 periods and conditions worsen, whoever is winning at the time will be the winner. If they are tied, then the winner will be decided by a shootout to be held Feb 6 at Verizon Center before the game between the 2. (whatever the rules for that involving players I am uncertain of at the time but I am certain that there will be riots in Pittsburgh if 65k people shelled out hundreds of dollars a ticket to see an unfinished game.)

But if things go as planned it will be the first ever Winter Classic to be held at night. It is already the first ever NHL game to be rain delayed. The TV ratings in the US will skyrocket because it no-longer needs to compete with the likes of Penn St-Florida or the Rose Bowl. The only football game on at the time is Oklahoma-UConn which probably wouldn't have drawn ratings anyway. But people in certain markets of Canada are out of luck because it looks like CBC will be showing Ottawa-Toronto instead.

Heinz Field will look awesome tomorrow night. Here's a pic taken by Pierre Lebrun.
Staal Game Time Decision
Jordan Staal may be making his highly anticipated return on hockey's biggest stage in prime-time. Or maybe he won't. The only one who can answer this question is Dan Bylsma, who has declared Staal a GTD. The final x-rays looked clear and Staal participated in practice at Heinz Field today so it all depends on how comfortable Disco is with starting him. Dan also said that the weather would not be a factor in his decision. Staal actually lost the shootout in practice today, but rather than having to sport a mustache his punishment was to run up Heinz Field and touch the sign marking section 527 (about as far as anyone can possibly be away from the field). I'm sure HBO will have the whole story on that next week.
Alumni Game
Yep, it ended in a tie. 5-5 was the score. Mario didn't score but he had a few assists. It seemed like nobody was really trying that hard to win and they all just seemed content to be able to skate on the Heinz ice before the actual teams did. I heard a few fan complaints about the game. The puck dropped before everyone had a chance to get in and there was no television coverage of the event. The only way to watch was a small box streaming on and the Pens site. But all in all it was a good time and a way to make the old-timers more involved in the sport again.
Pens Practice
Here's a few photos (I didn't take them) of Pens practice today.
Sid stepping on the ice
Dupuis sporting a Steelers helmet to support the boys that usually call the field home.
And the group photo.
The players weren't exactly thrilled with the condition of the ice but the general consensus was that it was better than they expected and (assuming the rain doesn't cause total havoc) shouldn't be too much of an impediment to the game.
So get ready because we are (hopefully) only hours away.
Let's Go Pens!

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