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.

WATCH LIVE: Wild at Blackhawks; Penguins at Sharks

Scott Darling, Charlie Coyle
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Will Ryan Suter say something foolish during tonight’s game? Is Brent Burns‘ beard so long that it’s finally starting to scrape the ice?

We’ll find out the answer to those questions and more during Tuesday’s NBCSN doubleheader.

Need to follow the two games online? Never fear.

Game 1: Minnesota Wild at Chicago Blackhawks


Game 2: Pittsburgh Penguins at San Jose Sharks


Bolland back in, Bjugstad out with injury for Panthers

Evgeny Medvedev, Nick Bjugstad
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Message sent or not via healthy scratches or not, Dave Bolland returns to the Florida Panthers mix on Tuesday.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, it’s maybe not under the most ideal circumstances, as part of the explanation for his return is Nick Bjugstad‘s absence.

The Miami Herald’s George Richards reports that Bjugstad is out tonight against the St. Louis Blues with an upper-body injury that he suffered during a Monday practice.

In fact, as you can see in the tweet above, the young forward was sent home because of the injury.

This forces some shuffling, with Vincent Trocheck moving up to the second line while Bolland centers the third combo as usual.

The Panthers are currently on a two-game winning streak and visit St. Louis as the second date in a five-game road trip.

This is also the early part of a span in which they play nine of 10 games on the road (counting Sunday’s away win), so a prolonged absence from Bjugstad could sting that much more.


Royal pain: Kings’ Greene to have shoulder surgery, out indefinitely

Jiri Hudler, Matt Greene
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The Los Angeles Kings lost one of their most veteran defensemen on Tuesday, as the club announced Matt Greene would be out indefinitely following shoulder surgery.

Greene, 32, had only appeared in three games this season, missing extensive time with the ailment. He had recently resumed skating with teammates and looked to be on the way back to a return, but never got to the point where he was participating in drills, or taking contact.

With Greene out of the lineup, the Kings have primarily gone with a six-man defensive unit of Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, Christian Ehrhoff, Jamie McBain and Brayden McNabb. Derek Forbort and Jeff Schultz have also been in the mix, but sparingly.

If Greene misses extensive time, L.A. could be in the market for a defenseman come trade deadline day, like they were last year before acquiring Andrej Sekera from Carolina. Greene is one of the most playoff-tested players on the L.A. roster, with 79 games and two Stanley Cups on his resume (and another Stanley Cup Final, with Edmonton in 2006).

Looks like the Canucks will have an interesting lineup tonight

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The Vancouver Canucks got banged up last night in Anaheim. As a result, it looks like they’ll have an interesting lineup tonight in Los Angeles.

Coach Willie Desjardins confirmed this morning that wingers Chris Higgins and Jake Virtanen were hurt and wouldn’t dress against the Kings.

In game-day line rushes, AHL callup Andrey Pedan, a defenseman, was skating on the wing with Jared McCann and Radim Vrbata.

But hold on, that doesn’t necessarily mean Pedan will make his NHL debut tonight. This morning, the Canucks announced they’d called up d-man Alex Biega from AHL Utica. Theoretically, inserting Biega could allow the offensively inclined Yannick Weber to move up to forward. Biega and Weber both shoot right. Pedan shoots left.

But wait, there exists another possibility — that both Pedan and Biega could play. That will depend on Chris Tanev‘s status. He got banged up yesterday as well, though he was able to skate this morning.

Confused? It’s OK. So is everyone.

As an aside, the Canucks not only got banged up last night, they also got pushed around and embarrassed in a 4-0 loss to the Ducks.

On that note, here’s what Pedan did to Jarred Tinordi in a Utica-Hamilton game last season: