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Winter Classic 2011: A photographic look around Heinz Field

While there’s a lot of things you’ll get to see on Saturday on NBC with our coverage of the Winter Classic in Pittsburgh, there’s a closer look and some fun things around Heinz Field that you might not get as close a look at. After spending the last few days in Pittsburgh and getting to know the workings of Heinz Field pretty well.

Putting together a big event like this takes a lot of work and seeing the way they rapidly put things together here is impressive and amazing and hopefully some of these photos will help convey that and get you excited for the NHL’s big way to ring in the new year.

If you’d like to see the larger version of these pictures (and yes, they are big and clear) click on the photos to see them big and bold.

Being here with a rink outside to play on in a gigantic football stadium is a rare thing, one thing you generally don’t get to see is what it looks like to peer down the ice to stare down the end zone. Trying to wrap your head around this view from ice level and then picturing a packed stadium is pretty intimidating.

Keeping a rink this size that’s sitting outdoors amongst the elements takes a lot of work. Something you won’t get a look at is how it’s done to keep the ice nice and cold. This look at the piping that runs the coolant underneath the ice shows you just how they take care of the problems of keeping the playing surface in great condition.

Two days ago, before all the paint and logos and other parts to the rink setup were out there, the ice was about as pure as it’ll ever look. It’s far from the final product but this is as pristine and serene a setting as you’ll see in what’s normally a raucous stadium.

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to sit from the first row at center ice for an event like this, this photo should give you a great idea of the kind of view you can expect. Much like for a regular game in an arena, the closer you are to the glass, the worse the view is. Of course, then you don’t get to brag to your friends about being the closest to the action.

One of the new features that NBC will have for this year’s Winter Classic is a zip camera above the rink. You might be familiar with the camera from NBC’s Sunday Night Football as they follow the players from the huddle to the line of scrimmage. For the Winter Classic, this camera will follow Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin as they rush up the ice to create chances and score goals. At least that’s what we’re hoping will happen. Sitting this camera above the zone on a power play might be the coolest thing we get to see all year.

Outside of Heinz Field, there’s a community rink that’s been playing host to local high school games and open skates for fans to come down and take part in. The view from here isn’t exactly bad. Getting to hear these teams chatter back and forth from the walkway next to the rink provided some 24/7-like entertainment. Earmuffs, kids.

As for the finished product on the ice, the view as seen from the press box here at Heinz Field gives you a fantastic look of what you’ll be seeing live and in high definition (or 3-D if you so choose) on New Year’s Day. This makes for a pretty fantastic arrangement.

Raanta rewards Rangers for starts over Lundqvist by blanking Blackhawks

VANCOUVER, BC - NOVEMBER 15: Goalie Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers shares a laugh with teammate Antti Raanta #32 after defeating the Vancouver Canucks 7-2 in NHL action on November 15, 2016 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
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If someone told you that the New York Rangers started a goalie on back-to-back nights, and that goalie wasn’t Henrik Lundqvist, you’d probably wonder if he was hurt or retired.

Nope. It just so happens that Antti Raanta is playing at an incredibly high level, Alain Vigneault noticed, and that decision paid dividends on Friday night. Raanta won both nights of a back-to-back, allowing a single goal (with the Rangers protecting him, being that he only needed to stop 43 of 44 shots during that span).

Raanta and the Rangers blanked the Chicago Blackhawks with a 1-0 overtime win, at least briefly climbing to first place in the massively competitive Metro Division:

1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP

Nick Holden ended up scoring the only goal of the game:

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks lost but at least salvaged a standings point and it seems like Patrick Kane is OK after this injury scare:

Raanta improved to 7-1-0 on the season, allowing two goals or less in all but one of his appearances so far this season. That’s the kind of work you’d expect to see if you’re going sit a guy who’s, you know, a living legend.

Blue Jackets remain in thick of things in Metro on tough night for Red Wings

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 01:  Boone Jenner #38 of the Columbus Blue Jackets is congratulated by his teammates after scoring the go ahead goal against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on December 1, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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As the Columbus Blue Jackets keep rolling, the Detroit Red Wings are probably just happy to get Friday behind them.

For the second straight game, the Blue Jackets beat their opponent 4-1.

They’re now on a five-game winning streak, and like the climbing St. Louis Blues, things look great if you go back a little further. They’re 10-1-2 in their last 13 games and 13-2-3 since November began.

Columbus is now at 16-5-4, giving them 36 standings points. They’re once again in breathing distance of leading the Metro Division when you consider games in hand.

Update: Here’s how the standings look after the Rangers beat the Blackhawks 1-0 in overtime:

1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP

That’s a stout division, and the Blue Jackets remain shockingly effective. Then again, with results like these over and over again, it might be time to merely expect such impressive work.

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For Detroit, it was a rough night. Jonathan Ericsson couldn’t play, Mike Green was a little banged up and Petr Mrazek was pulled for Jimmy Howard. This goal summarized some of their struggles:

Blues blaze through Devils, even in New Jersey

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 09: (L-R) Brad Hunt #77, Robby Fabbri #15 and Vladimir Tarasenko #91 of the St. Louis Blues celebrate Fabri's first period goal against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on December 9, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The New Jersey Devils have been incredibly difficult to beat at home. Lately, the St. Louis Blues have been on a roll just about anywhere.

On Friday night, the Blues were the hotter team, handing the Devils their first home loss in regulation in 2016-17. And it wasn’t particularly close, with St. Louis winning 4-1.

It’s a convenient time to note that the Blues rank among the hottest teams in the NHL. Most recently, they’re 5-1-1 in their last seven games, but they’ve been especially impressive since they flirted with .500 at 7-6-3. Beginning with a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 15, the Blues are on a 8-2-1 tear.

This leaves them second in the Central with a 16-8-4 record.

That’s impressive stuff.

This 4-1 win was quite the showcase for Robby Fabbri and Vladimir Tarasenko, in particular. Tarasenko collected three assists while Fabbri scored two goals on Friday night. His second goal was particularly slick:

The Blues are right in saying that this was a pretty fitting opportunity to drop a “Holy Jumpin.”

Oh yeah, don’t forget about Jake Allen, either.

Leon Draisaitl continues hot streak with silky smooth goal (Video)

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Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”

Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).

Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.

Read more about his rise here.

Update: The Wild were able to shake off that goal, ultimately beating the Oilers 3-2 via a shootout.