2017 Stadium Series Brings Better Weather (and Hopefully a Better Outcome) Than 2011 Winter Classic for Penguins
This week leading up to tonight's Stadium Series game in Pittsburgh, which finally matches the Penguins and Flyers outdoors, the temperature averaged in the high 60s each day. On Friday, the high recorded in Pittsburgh was 78 degrees: not the most ideal weather for outdoor hockey. Temperatures were in the 70s when the Ducks and Kings met outside at Dodger Stadium in 2014, but not a place like Pittsburgh!
Luckily, a cold front has moved in today, and temperatures will be in the mid 30 by puck drop and will drop below freezing by the time the game ends.
Mother nature must be a fan of hockey (or perhaps this rivalry).
The weather and matchup are more ideal this time around in Pittsburgh. For the Penguins sake, misfortune doesn't greet them like it did back in the '11 Classic, when Sidney Crosby was hit by Dave Steckel and it began the long road back from a concussion for the Penguins captain.
I attended that game in 2011. My parents have had season tickets since the 2001-2002 season, and our seats at Heinz Field matched your location at the then-named Consol Energy Center.
My parents have seats in the lower level of the arena, second-to-last row of the section, where the Penguins shoot in the first and third periods.
At Heinz Field, that put our seats in section 128, just to the right of the tunnel where Steelers opponents exit and enter into their locker room.
When you put a hockey rink in the middle of a football field, your vantage point will be altered the lower you sit. It's the one time you prefer to be in the 500 level at Heinz Field.
Regardless, my dad and I were among the 65,000 plus in attendance to watch a game in rainy conditions that matched the Penguins and Capitals in a rivalry game before the two became division rivals two years later with realignment.
I won't make it to Heinz Field this time. I'm over 1,200 miles away and am in the midst of high school basketball playoff games. I've got the DVR ready, and I'll be home later tonight to watch this spectacle between two teams and fans who can't stand the site of each other. I might have to turn the notifications off on my phone and tablet, though.
If you're going: Have fun, stay warm and drink it in if you didn't make it in 2011.