FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It wasn’t an ideal New Year’s Eve for the Winter Classic rink. The clear sky over Gillette Stadium in Foxboro allowed the sun to beam down on the ice, which was covered with thermal blankets prior to the Boston Bruins’ late morning practice.
But the above-freezing temps and the glaring sun produced an ice surface that both the Bruins and Montreal Canadiens labeled as “soft.”
Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said one corner of the rink that was exposed to the sun was, frankly, “dangerous.”
“The one end was very slushy. The one corner was very dangerous, [when you were] kind of turning,” he said. “But what are you going to do? You have to deal with it.”
Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara saw the same conditions. "For the most part, during practice, we stayed away from that corner of the ice, for safety reasons,” he said.
The ice conditions in that corner worsened as practice continued. “At the end, it was tough to turn. Very soft. Very slushy. It’ll be an adventure every time you go in there,” said Seidenberg.
The Canadiens also experienced some questionable ice conditions. “Not as good as an indoor rink, obviously. Very soft, very soft. And slushy at the end,” said forward Lars Eller. “Two of the corners were particularly soft.”
That said, defenseman P.K. Subban didn’t mind the conditions, saying the ice was good.
But the Habs and Bruins were optimistic that Dan Craig, the NHL’s ice guru, could have the surface at its best for the Winter Classic on Jan. 1. And he should: The game goes off at 1 p.m. ET, which will be after the sun will be hidden behind the stadium’s walls.
“Maybe it’ll be a little harder tomorrow. But it’ll be the same for both teams,” said Eller.
If it isn’t, Chara said it shouldn’t matter. “It shouldn’t change the way we play,” he said. “I’m sure it’s going to be fixed by tomorrow.”
Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.
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