Capitals Insider

Winter Classic time change won't bother the Capitals

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Players hope delay helps improve ice

By the time the Capitals took the ice for practice Friday afternoon, the sun was shining down on Heinz Field, and after two previous groups skated, the quality of the surface wasn't nearly as good as it had been for the alumni game.

Several players said the ice was soft and there were a few holes, particularly in the corner by the left faceoff circle on the right side of the rink, where puddles formed.

Although the Capitals came off the ice before the NHL's announcement that the Winter Classic's start time has been changed to 8 p.m. in order to avoid the rain that's forecasted for the Pittsburgh area on Saturday, most players said a delay wouldn't bother them much.

"With the way the ice was this afternoon, it was soft, it was wet," defenseman Scott Hannan said. "If the temperature would drop and the ice would be a little better, I'm sure that would be good."

General Manager George McPhee also isn't worried about the new start time, saying, "We'll play anytime."

Alums play to 5-5 tie

The Capitals and Penguins alumni skated to a 5-5 tie on Friday morning, thanks to a goal in the final minute by former Washington star Peter Bondra. It was a fun scene afterward, with former players still joking and chirping in the hallways of Heinz Field after a contest that featured a little more intensity than anyone expected.

"You don't expect it during the game; you feel like you want to give guys some more room, but you look at Yvon Labre - he's fighting, he's chopping at pucks and trying to clear the zone," Bondra said. "I think it was a lot of fun. I wish we'd do stuff like that more often."

Goal scorers for the former Capitals were Alan May, Paul Mulvey, Mark Lofthouse, Mulvey a second time and finally Bondra on a shot after the puck popped out to the slot.

Rob Brown, Rod Buskas, Craig Simpson, Jay Caufield and Ron Francis scored for the Pittsburgh alumni.

- Katie Carrera

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