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Posted On Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 10:02 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Putting together the puzzle

The Winter Classic ice crew puts together the first set of rink boards on Wednesday morning. (Photo: NHL.com)
PHILADELPHIA -- When NHL Senior Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig talked yesterday about the arrival and installation of the rink boards, he called it putting together a puzzle.

Well, that puzzle was taken out of its box this morning, and the pieces are distributed all around the rink being built here in the middle of Citizens Bank Park for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

While the last of the ice trays were being laid down in one end zone, the first of the boards were being put together -- one of the corner sections.

We'll find out from Craig a little later just how much of the boards will be installed today.

It also looks like the connectors for the coolant that will keep the rink bed cold are being laid in today, along with some insulation. That means the hoses carrying the glycol coolant can't be far behind. Craig said there will need to be some testing done to make sure everything is running right, but it looks like more progress is being made.

It also looks like windows have been installed in host chalets built for NBC and CBC studio teams. I'm sure they'll like that when Jan. 2 rolls around. And there's even work being done in the press box here at the ballpark, in order to accommodate the large influx of media that will arrive to cover the game.

We'll have more in a while, after our daily briefing with Craig.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 4:02 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Rain, rain, go away

PHILADELPHIA -- A steady drizzle fell on Dan Craig and his crew for most of today, but that didn't stop them from getting a good amount of the ice pans installed on the main rink the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers will skate on when the puck is dropped for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

It was far from a downpour, but the rain was irritating enough that it slowed things down more than NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations Dan Craig would have liked.

"It's slowed the guys up a bit, (but) we're doing all right," he told NHL.com. "Even if you're doing a home project, the last thing you want is to be outside in the rain. What you prefer is to stay dry. That's the main thing, keeping the guys healthy and safe out there."

The forecast for tomorrow from weather.com calls for a 70-percent chance of rain, but with a temperature of 58 degrees. As we all know, however, the weather remains the most unpredictable part of the Winter Classic experience.

"I saw one (report) that said a little rain-slash-snow mixture," Craig said, "which would not be good for us."

However, over the long term between now and the puck drop for the Winter Classic, Craig remains confident weather won't cause too much of a problem.

"I don't see anything between now and the Classic that's any major concern to what we have going on," he said.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

 

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 3:58 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Boards coming next

PHILADELPHIA -- While the rink being built here at Citizens Bank Park for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic right now looks like a giant rectangle laid out in the middle of the infield, tomorrow will see a sight familiar to all hockey fans -- the boards are going in.

NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations Dan Craig told NHL.com that first thing tomorrow morning, the rink boards will be off-loaded, carried into position and anchored to the rink floor. That's when this will go from looking like a construction site to an actual hockey rink.

And then will come the coolant, moving us one step closer to making ice.

"Once the board system is on and everything is secure, we fill the system up and then we'll pressure-test it," Craig said. "We'll circulate (the coolant), make sure everything is full, get all the air out of the system. At that point we'll see where we are, what Mother Nature does for us, if we're going to bring hoses up."

Craig anticipates the boards going on first thing tomorrow morning. You can watch them get laid in on NHL.com's live webcam, plus we'll have all the details right here at this blog, so follow along.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 12:15 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Winter Classic construction crew making progress

PHILADELPHIA -- When the crews left Citizens Bank Park here at 5 p.m. last night, they just about had the sub-floor for the main rink laid, and the crews finished that task when they started back up at 8 a.m. today.

Day 2 of the build-out for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic not only featured the completion of the sub-floor, it was followed by a layer of plywood being laid over the top of that sub-floor. And now the crews are beginning the installation of the 30-foot-long pans that will hold the coolant that keeps the ice solid. If all goes well, they could start hooking up the hoses that pump the glycol into the pans.

Besides the main rink, the pans were laid for the auxiliary rink, which is situated between home plate and the pitcher's mound.

In addition, construction along the right-field wall of the host positions for NBC and CBC are moving along quite nicely.

We'll be getting a full progress report from NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations Dan Craig sometime after 1 p.m., so check back in later.

Until then, you can follow along live right here on NHL.com's live webcam.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 4:48 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Renzulli reveals details about ancillary events

PHILADELPHIA -- If NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations Dan Craig is in charge of the actual game that will be played Jan. 2 here at Citizens Bank Park, NHL Senior Vice President of Events Don Renzulli helms all the ancillary events that will make the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic one of the most memorable events of the 2011-12 season.

At a press briefing today, Renzulli gave a few details of what the non-rink décor of the stadium will entail.

Most obvious are the 1,500 temporary seats installed in center field, which will be completed and approved by the end of the week. Left field near the foul pole will feature two goalie sticks framing a hockey puck about 35 feet in diameter, while the right-field corner will house the host positions for NBC and CBC.

The broadcast positions for NBC and CBC will be erected in what usually is short center field.

The auxiliary rink will be built between the pitcher's mound and home plate, and another small stage will be built in front of home plate for the anthem singers.

Work also is going on outside the stadium on Citizens Bank Way, where a spectator plaza will be constructed.

"That's where we open that up to the fans and our sponsors," Renzulli said. "There will be merchandise, a band, video board, food and beverage. A place to go enjoy yourself prior to the game. Once that opens for Alumni Day on the 31st, that'll stay open right through to when we drop the puck at 1:28 p.m. on Jan. 2.

"We've got bands on the 31st and 1st. There will be video board out there. We'll show highlights, NHL Network out there live. The network will be live out there broadcasting. All of our sponsors -- I think we have 10 or 11 that will activate out there -- they'll all have tie-ins with hockey. It's not just showing products, it's really tie-ins with the game. We'll have roaming entertainers, something similar to what we've had the past four years."

Renzulli also talked about the weather reports, which he said were very hopeful leading into the game.

"One good thing is the last hour the weather has changed," he said. "This is more like Winter Classic weather instead of the 60-degree weather we've had in the past. The weather report that I'm seeing is snow toward the end of the week, at least light snow, right through to Jan. 2. Hopefully Mother Nature works in our favor, the sun stays out of our way, little clouds, little snow and we're looking forward to a great day on Jan. 2.

"This will start to take shape pretty quickly. Hope to watch Dan make ice come Thursday."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK







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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 8:00 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

It's time to build a hockey rink

PHILADELPHIA -- With the arrival of the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic truck ice truck this morning, Citizens Bank Park makes the full-time shift from baseball stadium to outdoor hockey oasis.

NHL Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig and his crew are on-hand for the arrival of the custom-built 53-foot truck, which contains everything needed to create the rink that will play host to the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers on Jan. 2, 2012.

The long days and nights actually started Nov. 21, when the first pieces of armor decking were laid down to protect the field, and temporary seating already has been erected in center field (follow the progress here). Next comes the installation of everything needed to build a hockey rink in a baseball stadium.

In other words, the fun starts now.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 12.16.2011 / 11:51 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Wild's Koivu out with leg injury

Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu will miss Saturday's visit by the New York Islanders due to a leg injury.

Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that he hopes Koivu is back before the holiday break, which leaves his availability in question for the team's upcoming three-game road trip, which starts Monday in Vancouver and includes stops in Calgary and Edmonton.

Koivu leads the Western Conference-leading Wild with 28 points and a plus-9 rating, and tops the team's forwards with an average of 21:08 of ice time per game.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 5:41 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Adjusting the game plan

PHILADELPHIA -- The last time the Flyers and Lightning met, Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette employed a stall tactic against Tampa Bay's 1-3-1 forecheck. When Tampa stuck to its system and didn't aggressively forecheck, the Flyers' defensemen sat back in their zone and waited, nearly motionless, until referees blew the play dead.


The Flyers' plan drew considerable reaction from around the hockey community, but in discussing how he would handle the Lightning's 1-3-1 on Friday, he made a joke, saying, "Typically we don’t like to announce our game plan for the opponent to the newspaper, but we might sit there for four or five minutes at a time. We might."


Speaking before tonight's game, however, Laviolette was a bit more serious, and wasn't ready to commit to any plan for countering the Lightning.

"I guess I've got to see how the game goes," he said. "It seems on the tape that they were sending the first man a little bit more, pressing a little bit more. … I'm not sure how the game will play out."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 5:30 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Flyers play hot hand

PHILADELPHIA -- Flyers coach Peter Laviolette, in assessing the play of his goaltenders following Thursday's win against the Penguins, said it was important to him that Ilya Bryzgalov play back-to-back games Wednesday and Thursday -- especially Thursday against the Pens, with first place in the conference at stake -- but that backup Sergei Bobrovsky would get games down the line.

That made tonight's game against the Lightning seemingly a good opportunity to give Bobrovsky his first action since Nov. 26. Instead, Laviolette has opted to start Bryzgalov for a fifth straight game. Bryzgalov has won four in a row, allowing just 11 goals in that span.

"He's rested, he's ready -- he's playing," said Laviolette. "It's a chance to get Bryz back in the nets. We brought him here for that reason. He's been winning games and we're going to put him back in there. Doesn't have anything to do with Tampa. I think it's different than what I said that last time, because we were playing the Penguins, they were the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference and we wanted to put Bryz in there. Tonight is just a game."

Here's how the rest of the lineup for the Flyers -- and the Lightning -- could look tonight.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 3:21 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Likely lineups for Flyers, Lightning

PHILADELPHIA -- Here is what the lineups could look like when the Flyers and Lightning hit the ice tonight (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) here at the Wells Fargo Center.

With wins in four straight, it's likely the Flyers' lineup remains the same as it did in Thursday's win against Pittsburgh. Tampa Bay didn't skate today, but Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune posted on his Twitter feed that he expected the lineup to remain the same as it did in Thursday's win against the Rangers, with one exception -- Nate Thompson replacing rookie forward Brett Connolly, who was loaned to Team Canada for the 2012 World Junior Championship.

FLYERS
Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Matt Read - Danny Briere - Wayne Simmonds
James van Riemsdyk - Maxime Talbot - Jakub Voracek
Zac Rinaldo - Sean Couturier - Harry Zolnierczyk

The defense pairings likely will be mixed around most of the night, with the foursome of Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Matt Carle and Andrej Meszaros seeing the bulk of the minutes, with rookies Kevin Marshall and Marc-Andre Bourdon being spotted in.

After back-to-back starts against Buffalo and Pittsburgh on Wednesday and Thursday, this could be a chance for coach Peter Laviolette to get Sergei Bobrovsky a game.

LIGHTNING
Ryan Malone - Steven Stamkos - Steve Downie
Tom Pyatt - Vincent Lecavalier - Teddy Purcell
Nate Thompson - Dominic Moore - Ryan Shannon
Dana Tyrell - Blair Jones - Adam Hall

Eric Brewer - Victor Hedman
Brett Clark - Matt Gilroy
Bruno Gervais - Marc-Andre Bergeron

Mathieu Garon likely will start in goal, with Dwayne Roloson backing him up.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic