Friday, February 28, 2014
On Soldier Field ice, a nod to football
By Jon Greenberg
Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has a Steelers-themed helmet ready for Soldier Field.
CHICAGO -- Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will look right at home at Soldier Field on Saturday night.
Fleury will wear a Steelers-themed helmet, with a Penguins logo replacing the Steelers', for the "Stadium Series" game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Chicago backup netminder Antti Raanta has a nifty mask, too, with an eagle painted on it to honor former Chicago goalie Ed "The Eagle" Belfour.
Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford, who is assumed to be the starter Saturday, will have to live vicariously through them.
Crawford also got a special helmet painted, but somehow, he said, his got lost in transit after it was sent to Chicago by Reebok, the manufacturer.
Where is it now?
"I don't know," Crawford said Friday. "I have no clue. Reebok doesn't know. FedEx doesn't know. Whatever. I'm over it now. I spent all day stressing about it. I'm done now."
Crawford said Blackhawks trainers were told it was sent by Reebok, but it appears to have gotten sidetracked along the way.
With the NHL trade deadline looming at 3 p.m. ET Wednesday, the Blackhawks’ rival, the St. Louis Blues, pulled off a big trade with Buffalo on Friday, landing goaltender Ryan Miller and center Steve Ott.
The teams are tied atop the Central Division with 84 points. The Blues have beaten Chicago once in regulation and twice in shootouts. Chicago hosts the Blues on March 19 and April 6, the teams' final regular-season meetings.
"That's a big move for them," Crawford said. "They get one of the better goalies in the league. They're trying to make a push for the Cup. We're not too worried about other teams. We're always focused on what we're doing."
Ice, ice, baby
The most-asked questions Friday night were weather-related. After all, it's not often NHL teams typically have to deal with things like wind and snow when they're on the ice.
Snow is in the forecast for the 7 p.m. CT game, which is great for TV optics, if not so much for the players.
After the evening skate in cold conditions, members of both teams complimented the quality of the ice.
"It's the same for both teams," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "Probably adds to the experience for the fans, being outside. At the end of the day, we're still trying to find a way to win a game."
Chicago winger Patrick Sharp said he's hoping for warmer weather -- good luck, it's supposed to be frigid -- and no precipitation, but he's looking forward to playing in front of 60,000 fans in a raucous atmosphere.
"It's the whole experience," Sharp said. "It's cool to play outside. It's tough to explain why."
Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad will face his home team for the first time in a regular-season game in his short NHL career.
The 21-year-old native of suburban Pittsburgh said he grew up watching Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who are 26 and 27, respectively.
"Oh yeah, he's a Pittsburgher," Toews said. "I'm sure he is [excited]. I guess I have to ask him. I'm sure he's excited to play against his childhood team, guys like Crosby and Malkin, guys he's looked up to for a long time. It'll be fun for him."