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First-timers can't wait to get outside

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

Matt Cullen has seemingly done and seen it all during his 20 seasons in the league, except for one thing - play in an NHL outdoor game.

He's finally going to get that chance this weekend, when the Pens host the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday at Heinz Field for the Stadium Series.

"I'm really excited," he admitted. "I've always really liked the idea of it and really enjoy watching them. I just think there's something really special about it. I was pretty excited when I saw it was on the schedule this year."

As excited as his three boys, Brooks, Wyatt and Joey?

"I don't know, probably pretty close," Cullen laughed. "I know they're pretty pumped. I think they get to skate during the game too. They're fired up. They're setting out all their gear getting ready and they're pumped."

They also had the chance to skate outside this evening, when each team got a family skate following their practices. Cullen said they're so excited that it was hard to get them off to school today.

"It's such a fun thing," Cullen said. "I think everybody relates to it, adults and kids alike, how much fun it is. What a cool experience it is. To be a part of it, my whole household is pretty excited. I would say the boys are probably the most."

While a decent amount of players on the Pens' roster have participated in an NHL outdoor game - Carl Hagelin, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have the most experience with three - there's actually a fair amount who haven't.

That list includes veteran NHLers like Cullen, Patric Hornqvist and Ian Cole.

"I am really looking forward to it," said Cole, whose father Doug built a rink in their backyard during his childhood. "I think just the newness of the venue and the excitement for being outdoors and doing it in a different setting, I think it's something that's enough to get the boys going.

"There's just so many memories playing outside when you were a kid and it's something that's really special. Having 60,000-plus there is going to be really exciting."

Rookies like Matt Murray may not end up having to wait as long for the chance to play outdoors.

"This should be pretty exciting," Murray said. "Heinz Field is a pretty epic building so it should be cool to be down on ice level."

Does Hagelin have any advice for the first-timers?

"They're always fun," he smiled. "Just go out and enjoy it, I guess."

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