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A Little Rain Won't Dampen the Pens' Spirits

Friday, 12.31.2010 / 4:06 PM / 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic
By Michelle Crechiolo
You know how they say a little dirt don’t hurt? Well, a little rain will be no pain for the Penguins on Saturday.

The team is aware that there is a possibility of showers on New Year’s Day, as it has followed the forecast as closely as the fans.

But until the Penguins hear otherwise, they’re not worried about getting a little soaked – it’ll be worth it to play at Heinz Field in front of 70,000 fans.

“I don’t really know what the limit is for how much rain, kind of how they go against that, but for me, I would play in anything,” Sidney Crosby said. “It doesn’t matter.”

The Penguins understand that there’s a limit to how much rain the ice can handle. But they’re willing to test that threshold as far as possible on Saturday in order to play in a game like this.

“If we can still play with rain, so be it,” Crosby said. “We’re just happy to be a part of (the Winter Classic) and we want to play. If they can’t maintain the ice with a lot of rain, then we can’t play and there’s nothing we can do. But whether it’s rain or snow or whatever it is, individually and personally, I’ll play in anything, so I’m okay with it.”

They actually experienced a bit of rainfall during their practice. It didn’t have much of an effect on their skate.

“It wasn’t bad at all,” Pascal Dupuis said. “It got a little softer, but you can’t expect much when it was raining a little bit and they had a game right before. But they’re going to be working on it, and I’m excited to go out there (Saturday).”

And talk about finding a silver lining – players like Maxime Talbot are looking forward to the effect rain may have on their gritty, hard-nosed style of play.

“When we’re going to play, we don’t know what the (ice) condition will be,” Talbot said. “It might be an advantage for me, just chipping the puck.”

What the players are concerned about, however, is the possibility of the game being delayed if it does rain.

“I’ve never stopped and started again before,” Alex Goligoski said. “It would be different. I guess you would just have to stay loose. It could be a long day.”

It would be tough for the players to get warmed up and get their blood pumping, then have to wait for an unspecified amount of time to get back on the ice.

Head coach Dan Bylsma said all they can do is pray, but they’ve prepared as much as they possibly can for such a scenario.

“In that scenario where you warm up and then may not play, then you cool down and have to warm up again, mentally that may be an issue if it dragged out for a couple of hours,” he said. “We’re going to be prepared for that situation. Every player understands that. They’re going to have to restart at a certain point if we do get in that situation. We’re not going to be able to control that. We are ready for it. We’ve discussed it. We’ll say our prayers that we start at the right time.”
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