NEW YORK – With just one month until the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, the countdown to the much-anticipated outdoor match-up between fierce rivals Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins and Alex Ovechkin and Washington Capitals at 1 p.m. ET (noon CT) on New Year's Day has officially begun.
The rivalry between the NHL's two biggest stars takes center stage as the Penguins and Capitals meet at Heinz Field, home of the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers. Linked since entering the League together at the start of the 2005-06 season, Crosby and Ovechkin have forged one of the most exciting rivalries in all of sports.
Now a yearly tradition, the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic marks the fourth consecutive season the NHL has played a regular season outdoor game on New Year's Day.
In anticipation of the Jan. 1 game, fans can expect to see the following from the NHL over the next month:
* Dec. 2: The January 2011 issue of Vanity Fair, which includes a spotlight on Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and their face-off at the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, hits newsstands in New York and Los Angeles Thursday, December 2, and nationwide on Tuesday, December 7. Famed photographer Bruce Weber shot Crosby and Ovechkin for the magazine and VF.com, which will feature behind-the-scenes video of the shoot, additional photos and a special Q&A with Crosby on Monday, December 6.
* Dec. 3: The first recipe in a series of NHL Winter Classic-themed recipes created by Food Network star and hockey fan Duff Goldman debuts at NHL.com. The recipe series will help fans tailgating at Heinz Field or watching the live broadcast at home on New Year's Day celebrate the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic tradition.
* Dec. 5: The special 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic commercial premieres during NBC's national "Sunday Night Football" broadcast as the Baltimore Ravens take on the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium.
* Dec. 10: "24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic" billboard unveiled in New York City's Times Square at the busy 42nd St. and Broadway corner.
* Dec. 15: "24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic," highlighting the rivalry between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals and their preparation for the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, premieres at 10 p.m. ET / PT on HBO.
* Dec. 22: Episode 2 of "24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic" airs at 10 p.m. ET / PT on HBO.
* Dec. 23: In their first meeting of the season, the Penguins and Capitals face off at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., broadcast nationally, live on the NHL Network for fans outside of Pittsburgh and Washington.
* Dec. 23: Following the Carolina Panthers v. Pittsburgh Steelers game, the rink build for the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic officially begins at Heinz Field and the official time lapse camera coverage begins on NHL.com.
* Dec. 24: The world's largest mobile rink refrigeration unit – the custom-built 53-foot truck that houses the specialized equipment that will be used to make the rink for the NHL Winter Classic – arrives at Heinz Field; beginning Dec. 24, fans can follow the entire rink-build process through interactive features and extensive coverage on NHL.com, NHL Radio and the NHL Network.
* Dec. 29: Episode 3 of "24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic" airs at 10 p.m. ET / PT on HBO.
* Dec. 31: Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals skate at Heinz Field for the first time for team practices.
* Jan. 1: 2011: Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field, live NBC / CBC / RDS broadcasts at 1:00 p.m. ET.
* Jan. 5: Episode 4 of "24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic" airs at 10 p.m. ET / PT on HBO.
Additional information on upcoming media availabilities, press events and entertainment will follow in the coming weeks.