As is sometimes the case with any outdoor game, the weather has become a main talking point in the build up for this season's Winter Classic. More specifically, the amount of sunlight that will be hitting the ice surface has become a legitimate concern going into this mostly underhyped matchup.
The weather forecast itself isn't all that bad for the scheduled puck drop time of 1 p.m. ET, as Weather.com forecasts a high of 42 degrees, with winds heading southwest at around 12 mph, and they say it will be sunny. That forecast is consistent through the approximate end time of the game of 4 p.m. ET, assuming the game starts on time.
However, there is some speculation that the harsh glare of the midday sun could have an impact on the ice, which could mean a delay for as long as two hours.
Here's why there may be a 2 hour delay in puck drop for the 2015 @NHL #WinterClassic @washcaps @NHLBlackhawks pic.twitter.com/pJZnlCaTvE— Jim Cantore (@JimCantore) December 31, 2014
Obviously a glare like that would cause a lot of issues for the players on the ice, specifically the goaltenders. The Capitals practiced at noon ET yesterday, and many players reported that the glare was an issue, and even stated that in one corner of the rink, the sun exposure was damaging the ice surface.
Overall consensus from all players was that the ice was good and fast. Some slush in corner where glare hit for Caps' practice. #Blackhawks— Tracey Myers (@TramyersCSN) December 31, 2014
This specific corner of the ice became such an issue that during the Capitals post-practice family skate, they covered that corner of the ice with tarp in order to preserve it.
Covering up some areas again during the Caps family skate. #Blackhawks #WinterClassic pic.twitter.com/2QaUqliuRO— Tracey Myers (@TramyersCSN) December 31, 2014
The Capitals are no strangers to Winter Classic delays, as the 2011 Winter Classic that they played in Pittsburgh was delayed to the point of being a night start to rain that day. However, the NHL is hopeful that a delay will not be necessary, and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said that any delay would be minimal. Further, if the glare remains an issue, players will be allowed to wear sunglasses on the ice like Washington defenseman Karl Alzner did in practice yesterday.
When the Blackhawks took the ice around 3:30 p.m. ET yesterday, the glare wasn't nearly as much of an issue. The forecast for today is similar to yesterday's so that could mean that the two-hour delay will do the trick in eliminating the glare issue. Still, an on-time start is preferable for the league -- particularly with college football on the docket -- and also for those of us who are having Winter Classic watch-parties. What a bummer it'd be to have people at your house for a hockey game that doesn't start for another two hours.
Hopefully the game starts on time, but most importantly, let's hope the Blackhawks take care of business in this one. After all, even though it is a fun event, it's still a regular season game with 2 important points on the line. Go 'Hawks!