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Posted at 1:49 PM ET, 01/ 1/2011

Capitals talk about early impressions of the Winter Classic atmosphere

By Katie Carrera

None of the Capitals quite know what it will be like to walk out on to the ice surface under the Heinz Field lights this evening to take on the Penguins in the NHL Winter Classic, but they did come away with some first impressions on Friday.

"When you walked in here [Friday] and you saw thousands of people in the stands and you look at the enormity of the building and you go: 'Wow, this is going to be a really cool event,'" Coach Bruce Boudreau said on Friday.

Most of the players have never skated in a venue as large as Heinz Field, which will hold more than 65,000 spectators for tonight's game and even though it was empty when they took to the ice for practice, the sheer size of the stadium doesn't go unnoticed.

There's also a different on-ice view for the players with the stands so far removed from the glass from what they're accustomed to, but on both sides no one seemed too concerned about the sight lines or being able to view the puck even when the building is filled to capacity.

"It will be a little bit different when you see pucks get flipped up or dump ins come in but I'm sure you get used to it quick," Scott Hannan said. "There are certain reads that you'll have to make that are different sometimes, but it's different in every building. It might be worse for the goalies than it will be for the players."

Unlike traditional NHL venues, including the Verizon Center, the Capitals won't have a short walk out to the rink but rather they will walk out of the visiting NFL locker room at Heinz Field, down stairs, through a tunnel, up more stairs to the field level and then out on the designated pathways to the ice.

"The walk is a long way," Brooks Laich said. "It's two-and-a-half minute walk or something up and down stairs. I was hoping they were gonna make that ice and we could just skate it or something or have like a tow rope like they do on a ski hill -- something like that."

--Colleague Dan Steinberg talked to Karl Alzner about his interesting choice of sporting Wolverine-esque facial-hair while in the Winter Classic spotlight.

By Katie Carrera  | January 1, 2011; 1:49 PM ET
Categories:  Winter Classic  
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Next: Winter Classic crews removing water from Heinz Field rink


The faceoff will be around 9 pm. Turns out that the perfect time for the game would have been between 3 and 6 this afternoon.

The second front of rain will hit the area around 6 and won't move outta the area by 8.

Posted by: joek443 | January 1, 2011 2:31 PM | Report abuse

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