CALGARY -- To hear the Montreal Canadiens tell it, Sunday's showdown with the Calgary Flames at the Tim Horton's 2011 Heritage Classic is shaping up as a pleasant afternoon of hockey -- at least in terms of the weather conditions.
The Canadiens got their first taste of the outdoors at McMahon Stadium Saturday with temperatures hovering near minus-19 Celsius (minus-2 Fahrenheit), which is colder than what the forecast for Sunday's 4 p.m. puck drop is calling for, and the consensus seemed to be that cold won't be a significant factor.
At least it won't be something the Canadiens can't handle with an extra layer of clothing, some long underwear and maybe a little bit of an old remedy just like mom used to make.
"Chicken soup on the bench today," smiled Mike Cammalleri. "It's mom's old recipe, right?
"Honestly, the preparation has all been with the (training) staff. I think they've piggy-backed from football. Obviously, those guys play in such different climates.
"We have tons of options as far as under-gear and what we can wear. From thicker stuff to thinner stuff to turtle-necks to headgear to bottom stuff. There's tons and tons of different options."
Compared to the bitter temperatures Montreal and the Edmonton Oilers faced when they met at Commonwealth Stadium in November of 2003 -- below minus-30 C with wind chill -- Sunday will be balmy.
"Not too bad," Roman Hamrlik said. "I have to say, the first 10 minutes was pretty cold, but after that, when you start moving, it was pretty good. Your body gets warmer and you just go with the flow."
Expected temperatures Sunday in the range of minus-2 C to minus-14 C (27 F to 7 F) will make for a brisk, but certainly not biting, afternoon.
"I'm sure there were days in Toronto when it was minus-15 C or minus-16 C outside, maybe even minus-20 C playing on the backyard rink," P.K. Subban said of growing up in Hogtown. "I remember a couple of times playing shinny when my toes were too cold, my dad would take me in the car and take my skates off rub the toes, rub them for about 10 minutes, put my skates back on and then send me out there.
"I know what it's all about playing outside in the cold. I think when you're that excited and that enthused about playing outdoors, I don't think it really matters how cold it is as long you wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants you'll be fine."
Many of the Canadiens added a layer or two of underneath their equipment and many donned headgear under their helmets, but some players, like Scott Gomez and Hal Gill, went bare-headed as usual.
"I haven't done anything different," Gill said. "Try to be as normal as you can. Wear another layer of clothes. You go from a short sleeve to a long sleeve and you're good.
"It's a different rink. There's a lot of differences, but it's the same game and the same two points that we need. That's what it's all about."
While Montreal goaltender Carey Price will be wearing a new mask, he won't be making the same kind of fashion statement Montreal goalie Jose Theodore did in 2003 against the Oilers, when he wore a toque perched atop his mask.
"I think I'll be alright," Price said. "Really, the whole practice, I wasn't cold at all. With the technology in underwear right now, it's pretty irrelevant, really."
If anything, Price thinks getting used to the sightlines of a venue far more expansive than an NHL building will be a bigger challenge than dealing with the cold.
"It wasn't that bad," Price said when asked if it was difficult to get feel for the puck in the cold. "My angles felt off at first because it's a different feeling out there. Everything is open. Once I adjusted to that, it was pretty normal. I didn't feel that cold. Really, it's not that bad out there."
Most Montreal players wore eye black to battle the glare of the sun, but too much light won't be much of a factor with the late afternoon start Sunday.
Still, Cammalleri had some fun with his new look.
"We had to walk through the bathroom to get here," he said. "I walked by and I went back to the mirror and I checked it out. I think it looks pretty cool. I was going to wash it off. I said, 'No, let's go the interviews.' It looks pretty tough."