Sunday, January 2, 2011
2011 NHL Winter Classic Finally Played
After a 7 hour delay to the start time of the annual NHL Winter Classic outdoor game, the 2011 version took place at mild and rainy Heinz Field in Pittsburgh last night (January 1, 2011), where the visiting Washington Capitals squeaked out the win over the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1, led by 2 goals by Eric Fehr.
The Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin both did not factor into the scoring leading to the Washington win. The start of the game was pushed back to 8PM EST from the original 1PM EST scheduled start time due to the combination of the mild weather in Pittsburgh and the lingering rain showers--not a typical occurrence in Pittsburgh in January.
At game time, the temperature was the warmest ever recorded for a Winter Classic game in the 4 years since the game has started to become a January 1st annual event. As the game progressed, the temperature did begin to dip and the winds picked up as colder air moved through, but also a little bit of lingering rain showers continued to coat both the outdoor ice surface and all who were out there!
If the game wasn't played last night due to weather, it would have been re-scheduled for today (Sunday), however, organizers did not want that scenario as it would have conflicted with a full slate of NFL games on the final day of the regular season, where there are still some playoff implications to be sorted through.
Worst case scenario would have been if the game couldn't have been played today, it would have had to have been made up as a regular season game, indoors, later in the season.
Regular NHL game rules applied to this game despite it being outdoors. The only accommodation made that was different from a regular game occurred in the 3rd period, where due to wind conditions, the teams switch sides halfway through the period so one team is not disadvantaged by the winds being against them for the whole period.