Capitals get a pre-Winter Classic taste of outdoor hockey
(Video by AJ Chavar/The Washington Post)
After months of anticipation, the excitement of playing outdoors in the Winter Classic felt a lot more real to the Caps on Wednesday when they participated in their first outdoor practice on the rink at the Chevy Chase Club.
In front of several hundred fans, the Caps seemed to love getting a chance to skate in the open air as they ran through a strenuous, roughly hour-long session.
"It's a lot of fun," defenseman Karl Alzner said. "That's what we talked about the whole time - we wish the whole season was played outdoors."
It was a serious practice and the Caps ran through their regular drills, but there was definitely a sense of fun as several players yelped and hollered when they first came onto the ice.
With the sun glaring down on them, most players experimented with varying amounts of eye black, and some applied it more liberally than others.
Matt Hendricks and John Carlson wore thick triangles under both eyes, while Alex Ovechkin had a thick ring of eye black circling his mouth, and a thick, curved streak running under his eyes and across the bridge of his nose.
"Just to have fun, like laugh," Ovechkin said. "Try to make a joke."
While weekend forecasts in Pittsburgh call for cloudy skies and possible showers, the Caps used Wednesday's practice as a chance to get used to playing in the sun and the wind.
Alzner said the eye black did little to help fend off the sun, and the wind pushed players along or slightly held them up depending on the direction they were skating.
Coach Bruce Boudreau ran the Caps through sprints at the end of practice because he said he wanted to see how the wind would affect the way his players skate.
"It's amazing, going one way against even a two mile per hour wind is a little bit different," Boudreau said.
The Capitals will practice indoors at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Thursday before leaving for Pittsburgh, and they will practice outside again at Heinz Field on Friday in anticipation for Saturday's game.
| December 29, 2010; 4:16 PM ET
Categories: Winter Classic
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