Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele is keeping a diary of his experiences at the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg. The Oilers face the Winnipeg Jets (3 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports2, NHL.TV) on Sunday in the 19th outdoor regular-season game and the first of four this season.
In his installment Saturday, Scheifele talks about the Jets' practice on the rink at IGF and what it'll be like to play the outdoor game against his friend Connor McDavid of the Oilers.
WINNIPEG -- The sun was shining for most of our practice, and I was one of the guys with eye black on today. It was obviously a little weird. I think every guy was kind of unsure of what it was going to feel like, whether it was going to be cold outside or what the sun was going to be like.
I saw a few guys throw on tinted visors, which everyone said helped a lot with the sun. It will depend on the weather tomorrow. Our trainers are doing a pretty good job at trying to give us all the opportunity to be ready for it.
Playing hockey outside like this, it's going to be different during the game. It may throw off your perception of things, for sure. You're used to the crowd being right on top of you and now there's so much space that you could lose track of where you are at times.
But you're still playing on the same-sized ice surface, so you have to keep it simple and try not to think too much about everything else that's going on, just focus on playing the game and enjoying the moment.
I heard today that Connor McDavid was talking about playing with me at the World Cup, had some nice things to say about it. When he speaks like that about me; well, it was an honor to play with him at the World Cup. That was the be all and end all for me. I was very excited for the opportunity to get to play with him. I know him from working out during the summer, so I know him pretty well. First and foremost, the thing that stands out the most is that he is such a great kid. He's so humble, loves the game, loves being around the guys. That's the one thing that always stands out to me about him; that he's an unbelievable guy first, and an unbelievable hockey player comes second for me.
So we'll be against each other on Sunday. When you are against somebody you know, I think it makes you want to work harder against them. Connor's a good buddy of mine and for the most part, it's going to push us. There might be a little ribbing before the game, maybe at a few faceoffs, but once it gets to game time, it pushes you. You want to out-battle him. It doesn't mean you want to go take the kid's head off, but you want to out-battle him and if you're in the corner, you want to beat him in a puck battle and beat him to the net or not let him get free for an open chance.
I'll bet he's the same way. He wants to out-battle me, and I think that's the funnest part about it."