PHILADELPHIA -- Jared McCann couldn't wait to check the calendar as soon as he and Nick Bjugstad were traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 1.
McCann was excited because he realized the Penguins will play the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2019 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series at Lincoln Financial Field on Feb. 23 (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN360, SN1, TVAS2).
"Right when we got traded that was one of the things Jared said, 'we get to play in an outdoor game,'" said Bjugstad, who arrived with McCann from the Florida Panthers for forwards Derick Brassard, Riley Sheahan and three picks in the 2019 NHL Draft. "I thought they didn't have one this year. So I'm pretty excited about that."
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The 53-foot NHL mobile ice-making truck arrived at Lincoln Financial Field to start the rink build Monday. Derek King, NHL senior manager of facilities operations, said the plan is for the dasher boards to be installed Thursday morning, and then the creation of a 2-inch thick ice surface for the game will start to be made later Thursday.
"It's cool playing outside," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "We've been fortunate to play in some of those games. Some good experiences, some not so good ones. I think that ultimately you just try to make the most of the opportunity. It's just one of those things where you try to have fun with it, but you also know it's two important points on the line so you try to balance that."
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The Stadium Series game will be Bjugstad's first NHL outdoor game, but not his first time playing outside. As a junior at the University of Minnesota in 2012-13, he played against the University of Wisconsin at Soldier Field in Chicago.
More memorable was his experience in 2008, as a freshman at Blaine (Minn.) High School playing against Roseau on Baudette Bay near the Canada border.
"It was minus-25 windchill," he said. "Some guys' feet were still cold a week later."
It's not likely to be that cold here in two weeks, but the rivalry between the Flyers and Penguins can create some pretty frigid feelings. He got a taste of it in the Penguins' 4-1 win at Wells Fargo Center on Monday.
"This is a great rivalry," he said. "You could tell the first five minutes of this game, the energy in the building, guys were buzzing around."
It will be the second time in three seasons the Flyers and Penguins have played outside. Pittsburgh won 4-2 when it hosted a 2017 Stadium Series game at Heinz Field.
The Flyers will be looking to defend home ice, as well as win for the first time what will be their fourth outdoor game. They lost to the Boston Bruins in the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park in Boston, and to the New York Rangers in the 2012 Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park.
Making this game even more important for the Flyers is their place in the standings. They are 9-1-1 in their past 11 games and could have pulled within four points of the Penguins for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference with a victory Monday. Instead they're eight points behind with 26 games remaining in the regular season.
"I've been in two outdoor games; would be nice to get a win," Flyers forward Jakub Voracek said. "I'm excited about that. But we've got to make sure we gain some ground before that game."