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NHL Winter Classic: Officials Optimistic Game Can Be Played On Time

With rain and warm temperatures in the cards in Pittsburgh on New Year's Day, the 2011 NHL Winter Classic is in a bit of jeopardy. Yesterday, NHL officials said the January 1 game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals could be postponed to 8 p.m. that night or early the next day if the rain is too much of a problem, and imitated that if it's really bad, it could cancel the entire event. 

However, despite this, NHL officials are optimistic the game will go on. Via Katie Carrera of the Washington Post:

"We will do everything humanly possible to play this game on Saturday," NHL executive vice president of events Don Renzulli said, adding that weather concerns have been an issue leading up to each of the three previous Winter Classics.    

As of right now, temperatures are expected to be in the mid 40s with a very good chance of rain. The warm temperatures aren't an issue because the refrigeration trailer keeps the ice cold no matter what. Rain, however, is problematic because it creates puddles that freeze and make the playing surface uneven, not to mention that it makes it impossible for players to see.

This isn't a new problem for the NHL. In the inaugural Winter Classic in 2008, there had to be frequent stoppages to clear away ice created by the rain.