PITTSBURGH -- The ice on Friday afternoon at Heinz Field was watery and slushy.
That’s because the city set a historic record at 78 degrees for Feb. 24.
So what were the ice conditions?
“They were pretty good,” Sidney Crosby said. “It was pretty bright there. Started off the practice and the sun was beating down pretty good.
“I’ve played in a few of these and the ice was pretty good considering how warm it was. It’s supposed to cool down and I’m sure it will get better.”
The Penguins will host the Flyers on Saturday night in a Stadium Series outdoor game.
Pittsburgh took the ice Friday at 4 p.m. The Flyers got on the ice a little more than an hour later and things started to cool down.
“We had a pretty good practice given the circumstances,” Jakub Voracek said. “This is a little better setup than Philly. The fans are closer.”
It was much hotter when Pittsburgh took the ice, but the temperature was still warm after the sun went down.
Shayne Gostisbehere said, “It was hot for sure. … It was fun, but it was pretty hot.”
Defenseman Radko Gudas said the ice surface was, “playable, but a little rough.”
On Saturday, rain is expected, with temperatures falling to 42 degrees by 5 p.m.
During the game, which begins at 8 p.m., the temperature is projected to continue to drop and there will be wind gusts up to 31 mph. By the end of the night, the forecast says temps will be in the 20s.
Players are more concerned about the wind than the ice at this point. Crosby, who has played in three previous NHL outdoor games, said wind is a huge factor. It happened to the Penguins at the 2014 Stadium Series game in Chicago.
“It can definitely be a factor,” Crosby said. “I want to say in Chicago that was something we kind of had to look at. We felt it a little more there compared to the other two [outdoor games]. If it's going to get windy like that, it’s something to be aware of.”
It remains to be seen how the NHL will handle which team goes into the wind first.
“Yeah, the wind,” Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet said of what element will be a big factor. “I hope you don’t have to backcheck. Who gets the advantage? They change in the third period. But who picks what end? There is a wind factor.”
Tocchet rated the ice Friday as “a little slushy.”
“It was good early and then it got tough because it was hot outside,” Tocchet said. “But we got a half-decent practice out of it.
“The one thing, the puck didn’t bounce, which was good. Players can adapt a lot better when the puck doesn’t bounce. When things bounce, it’s a tough night.”