MINNEAPOLIS – Corey Crawford was watching the Seattle Seahawks-Minnesota Vikings NFC wild card game in early January, the one in which temperatures, with wind chill, reached a frigid minus-25.
“I was hoping it wouldn’t be the same temperature,” Crawford said with a smile. “That would’ve been tough.”
No, the Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild won’t have to face blistering-cold conditions during their Stadium Series game at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon. In fact, the conditions may be as good as any outdoor game in which the Blackhawks have played. According to weather.com, the forecast for Sunday’s 2:30 p.m. puck drop is mostly cloudy with a high of 35 degrees.
The Blackhawks played in a warmer Winter Classic in Washington, D.C., in January 2015 – sun glare was also an issue. Their outdoor game in Soldier Field looked like a life-size version of a snow globe. Crawford said that Stadium Series game in Chicago was brisk.
“The one in Chicago we had, that was pretty cold when the play wasn’t going,” he said. “The feet and hands were starting to get a little chilly. So hopefully it stays around the same temperature as it was today.”
Strangely enough, Crawford said the swirling snow that night at Soldier Field didn’t cause him any problems picking up the puck. The only shot that got by him that night was when teammate Brent Seabrook inadvertently put one past him.
“When it snowed in Chicago, I thought it would be harder to see the puck. It actually helped a little bit. The puck stood out a little more, the light shining down against the snow,” Crawford said. “The hardest thing was the depth from over the boards, because you’re so used to having the stands. It’s weird at first with the depth without the seats there.”
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Players said the ice was in pretty good condition during Saturday’s practices. It was cloudy during those sessions – the Blackhawks practiced late morning, with the Wild following at 1 p.m. – so there was no sun glare. Basically, conditions were as good as you could get for an outdoor game. Players wouldn’t mind seeing the same on Sunday.
At the very least, it won't be NFC wild-card game cold.
“It’d be perfect if it was 30 degrees, maybe a little bit of snowfall for the TV and cloudy so there’s no glare,” Patrick Kane said. “It is what it is when you get out there; you deal with it as you go. I don’t think we’re too worried about it.”