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2 Pens, 1 Steeler preview Stadium Series

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Stadium Series matchup between the Pens and Flyers is in just 3 days, being played Saturday at Heinz Field, home of the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers.

A couple of Pens and a Steeler got together on Wednesday to get a preview of the rink, which is currently under construction at center field of the stadium. 

"Guys are excited. There are guys that have played in these games before and guys who haven't," said Bryan Rust, who played an outdoor game in college with Massachusetts-Amherst. "It doesn't matter how old a guy is or how many years they've played in the league. It brings that level of excitement to get back to your roots, and play a good, fun outdoor game."

Rust was joined by teammate Conor Sheary and Steelers linebacker Arthur Moats on the "sidelines" of the ice rink. The trio took in the enormous size of Heinz Field when compared to the size of an NHL ice surface.

The Stadium Series contest will be the 6th-largest outdoor crowd in NHL history with over 60,000 fans. With such a huge attendance, the playing surface seems small in comparison.

"The games at PPG (Paints Arena), the ice feels so big," Moats said. "That's because the crowd is so close."

"It's pretty cool," Sheary said. "I got to experience a football game in the crowd. The stadium looks a lot bigger from down here. To see the ice rink and everything going on around it, it's cool to see."

Sheary and Rust, both recovering from upper-body injuries, played in outdoor games in college. And both said that their advice to teammates that haven't taken part in such a contest is to get soak in the experience and festivities before puck drop.

"Take in as many of the sites and sounds from warmups as you can," said Rust, who played at Notre Dame. "When it comes to game time, focus more on the game."

"When you first step out here there is an awe experience," Sheary said. "You forget that you're playing in a game. So you get that out of the way early and focus on what's in front of you. It'll be a lot of fun for the guys."

Moats had his own sentiment.

"Just win," he said. "That's all that matters. Win."

INJURY UPDATES

Sheary and Rust are both rehabbing from their upper-body injuries. Sheary is ahead of Rust, as he has been skating on his own. But both players aren't sure of their availability for Saturday's game.

"It's a day-by-day thing. With each day skating it's getting better and better, which is to be expected," Sheary said. "If I'm ahead of schedule or on schedule is tough to say right now. You want to be ahead of schedule because you get to play sooner, but right now it's just a day-by-day thing.

"I have to get back out with the team first. We'll focus on that when it comes up. Today I'm taking this all in and experiencing it as much as I can."

Said Rust:

"Still in the early stages. Taking everything day-by-day. Hopefully things keep getting better and I'm back sooner rather than later."

MOATS REAL TALK

Moats covered a variety of hockey and football topics during his discussion with the media. It was a pleasant back-and-forth with the following highlights.

Moats' pick for a winger for Crosby: running back Le'Veon Bell.

Moats' anticipated goal celebration from Antonio Brown: "No question it would be a dance. Definitely a twerk."

On the best position for fellow linebacker James Harrison: "He's a goalie. He's intimidating first off. He doesn't even need a mask. He could go out there with no mask, no stick. As soon as he (growls), the shooter will just turnaround and skate the other way."

Moats, who has skated 1.5 times in his life, foresees himself as an enforcer: "I'm more of a physical guy. I'm more of an enforcer. If you need somebody to rough it up with one of their stars and take a few minutes in the penalty box, that's my job."

Moats will be at the Stadium Series game and wearing a No. 14 jersey: "That's my neighbor. So I'll go with Kunitz."

Moats, holding a hockey stick, showed off his hockey pose, calling it the "jab step."

Moats' favorite thing about hockey? Fighting. "I love the physicality of it. I love the fighting. In football we can't fight. If you push a guy too much they'll throw the flag on you. In hockey we don't have to hear about how tough you are. We can actually prove it. I like that part."

Moats appreciates the athleticism of hockey players: "A huge appreciation, the fact that they're going crazy, fast and showing their agility on ice. I ice skated once in my whole life and I know how difficult that was. I feel like they could easily come on the field and run. When you put the basis of that in there it shows their skill level. The fact that they're flying around on ice doing it, taking hits, all with the hand-eye coordination it definitely shows their skill set." 

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