ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 31: Dan Craig skates on the ice prior to practice for the NHL Winter Classic at Ralph Wilson Stadium December 31, 2007 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
Thursday is a big day for the Winter Classic ice rink at Heinz Field.
No, it's not a minor-league game or some ice capades. It's the day when members of the media can skate on the ice. And no one knows what an NHL-quality ice surface should look and feel like than some guy who sits in a press box and eats popcorn and drinks coffee during all of the games.
Nonetheless, those of us who have played the game at any level will get a good feel for what the Capitals and Penguins should expect when they hit the ice for their first practices on Friday. Check back for a full report later in the day.
Of course, the weather is still a major concern for Saturday's game. Here's the rundown of forecasts from national and Pittsburgh-based meteorologists:
Weather.com: Cloudy, periods of rain. High of 49 and a low of 32.
WPXI.com: Rain showers on and off through mid afternoon. High 52.
ThePittsburghChannel.com: Warm with rain. High 51.
KDKA.com: Rain and a high of 50 and a low of 42.
Accuweather.com: Cloudy, showers, breezy and mild. High of 53 and a low of 28.
So any way you slice it, it looks like Saturday will be way above freezing and there's a good chance of rain.
Will it be enough to wash out the Classic that day? That remains to be seen.
Sid's Streak Snapped
One thing is for sure, however: Sidney Crosby won't have a scoring streak to add on to when the puck is finally dropped at the Classic.
And let's all hope he shaves that growth on his upper lip now that his 25-game streak has ended. No one really needs his facial hair ruining the Classic, eh?
Crosby's streak ended at the hands of Rick DiPietro and the Islanders Wednesday night. Crosby was limited to just two shots in the 2-1 shootout loss to the Fishsticks.
Recalling Classics of Old
On Wednesday he recalled what it was like to play in the game.
"Definitely the day before, and just the whole energy that went into the game, and how great a feeling it was just to be out there and look around and be in Fenway Park and playing hockey, 40-odd-thousand people there," Recchi said. "And after the national anthem the Stealth comes over, and it was just something special, those little things. And obviously scoring the goal at the end to tie the game was pretty special and got us an opportunity to win it. So it was just one of those days that you just never forget."
Recchi, now 42, started his career with the Penguins as part of the "Option Line" with Kevin Stevens and Johnny Cullen. While both of them retired years ago, Recchi returned to Pittsburgh for another tour of duty years later, and continues to churn out goals and points in his 22nd season, now as a member of the Bruins.
During his time in Pittsburgh he played with a number of former Pens who will be lacing up the skates again this week -- only this time they'll be doing it in the alumni game on Friday. There's Mario Lemieux, Bryan Trottier, Rick Tocchet, Paul Coffey and others.
The Wrecking Ball's wheels left him a few years ago, but he's still been able to be a leader for the Bruins and score some timely goals. Still, the alumni game might be more Recchi's speed these days.
"I was thinking about sliding in to see if I could play," he joked.
"It'll be great to see Mario out there again, and obviously Rick and I are really good friends, and Bryan Trottier was my idol growing up and I got to sit beside him, so it'll be really cool to see those guys," Recchi said.
Classic By The Numbers
The NHL sent out some facts and figures about the Winter Classic. We've narrowed the list down to avoid all of the commercialized references to cavemen and tires in order to get to the good stuff. Feel free to read below...
1: Cable cam will be utilized in NBC’s coverage, a first for an NHL game
3D: The NHL Winter Classic will be broadcast in 3D worldwide
22: Million dollars of economic impact to the city of Pittsburgh,
according to VisitPittsburgh
53: Length, in feet, of the world’s largest mobile rink refrigeration
unit, specially built for the NHL Winter Classic
76: Broadcast cameras (all networks) will capture all the NHL Winter Classic action at Heinz Field including a cable cam and an airplane cam
300: Ton capacity of refrigeration trailer that will keep the ice cool at Heinz Field
350: Gallons of paint to make Heinz Field ice white
3,000: Gallons of coolant used to freeze the Heinz Field rink
10,000: Gallons of water needed to create a one-inch deep ice surface on Heinz Field
30,000: Fans from the Washington D.C. area are scheduled to make the trip to Pittsburgh for the NHL Winter Classic
38,000: NHL Winter Classic jerseys sold thus far
68,000: Approximate number of fans will attend the NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field (subject to change)