A beautiful blue sky and beaming sun peered over Lincoln Financial Field ... and a makeshift rink.
Yes, outdoor hockey is nearing in Philadelphia.
In just about a week, the Linc will be lit up and the show will be on for Flyers-Penguins. Next Saturday, the two rivals meet in the 2019 Stadium Series game (8 p.m./NBC).
Many got a taste of the elements Friday afternoon when Flyers players James van Riemsdyk, Travis Konecny and Travis Sanheim, Eagles offensive tackle Jordan Mailata and Wings transition player Trevor Baptiste took part in a media session.
Here are some of the sights and sounds from the day:
Different setting, same objective
The outdoor game is always a spectacle, an event much larger than your average game. For the Flyers, though, the game itself holds great importance. When next weekend rolls around, the Flyers will have 21 games remaining in their playoff push.
They enter this Saturday's action eight points out of the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot, currently occupied by the Penguins.
"These are the sorts of games that can be a big swing," van Riemsdyk said.
The Flyers on Monday night lost to Pittsburgh, 4-1, at the Wells Fargo Center in a game with some extracurricular activity … to nobody's surprise.
"We actually joked about it after the last game there, I'm like, 'I don't know what's going to go on on the ice because it's going to be a battle out there,'" Konecny said. "It's a big event for everyone to enjoy, but it might come down to one of the biggest games for us this year."
Juicing up the rivalry
Whenever the Penguins come to town, it's anticipated.
Now the rivalry heads outside with postseason implications.
Oh, and why not add some extra spice?
Evgeni Malkin did that when he dangerously whipped his stick at Michael Raffl on Monday and then took another swing at the Flyers on Thursday (see story).
The fans will welcome Malkin appropriately.
Konecny and Sanheim aren't getting wrapped up in the drama.
Nah, I really don't pay attention to that media stuff. I just kind of mind my own business.
We know it's going to be a great game, we know everybody is going to be on edge. Going back from when [Claude Giroux] started playing here, they've had that rival from the playoffs, him and [Sidney] Crosby coming up — it's just a big rivalry that's grown and fun to play in.
Not really, I've heard a little bit but not that I'm looking for it. It was obviously a dangerous play and the NHL took their take on it and disciplined him. That's all I can say about it.
'The fly swatter'
Mailata, a former professional rugby player from Australia, provided the quote of the day. During a photo opportunity, the 6-foot-8, 346-pounder called the lacrosse stick a "fly swatter," to the enjoyment of Baptiste and the Flyers.
Baptiste won the 2015 NCAA national championship at Lincoln Financial Field with the University of Denver.
He, Mailata and the Flyers were great sports Friday.
"It's crazy to think he's only 21 years old," Sanheim said of Mailata. "Same age as T.K."
Jordan Mailata and his "fly swatter." pic.twitter.com/MzEQ5vZj9K— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) February 15, 2019
Jordan Mailata. What a fun guy. pic.twitter.com/lpZe1JakEW— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) February 15, 2019
Checking it all out. pic.twitter.com/3vogOoODEi— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) February 15, 2019
Go play outside
The Flyers typically play in front of around 19,000 fans for home games.
The Linc can hold 69,000-plus.
"It's going to be a new challenge," Sanheim said. "When you move to the NHL, you get that excitement of playing in front of 20,000, let alone 70,000. It's definitely going to be exciting."
Konecny was a rookie when the Flyers played the Penguins at Heinz Field in 2017. He missed the game because of an injury.
"I had to watch it from TV, I didn't even get to go down to Pittsburgh, so I didn't even get the feeling of what it's all about," he said. "I'm really looking forward to it."
Especially considering his previous outdoor experience ... it's been a while.
"I was 10 on my pond out back behind my house," Konecny said.
"Playing outside is something everyone does as a kid. Especially being a Canadian, growing up, this is what we do — the cold weather brings us all together."
The temperature Friday was pleasantly in the 60s, making for a perfect day to see and feel the buildup of the Stadium Series:
.@johnborukNBCS 1-on-1 with James van Riemsdyk. pic.twitter.com/e27ok64waX— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) February 15, 2019
Travis Sanheim and JVR. pic.twitter.com/ky4qKp2mGU— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) February 15, 2019
And Pt. II pic.twitter.com/wX5t3tKNxw— Taryn Hatcher (@TarynNBCS) February 15, 2019
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