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NHL Stadium Series: Rain to dampen Flyers, Penguins game Saturday night in Philadelphia

By Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer
February 23, 2019, 5:09:53 PM EST

A pivotal Keystone State rivalry game between the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers will take place this Saturday night, but not in the usual climate controlled confines of an arena.

As part of the NHL’s annual Stadium Series, the two teams will compete outdoors at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles. The puck is scheduled to drop in front of 69,000 fans at 8 p.m. EST.

The current forecast for Saturday night's 'Battle of Pennsylvania' indicates that some rain could move through the region during the game.

The heaviest rain may hold off around the Philadelphia area until after the game, but enough rain is expected to make conditions less than ideal.

“The rain can lead to soft ice, which can get chopped up more by the players' skates, and make play difficult,” according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Edwards said. Any standing water on the ice can also impact play.

"Temperatures will be in the lower 40s F," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Edwards. “With the rain, temperatures will not drop much.”

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Workers prepare Lincoln Financial Field for the upcoming NHL hockey game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers, in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

It is going to feel raw outside with AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures around 32-35 F for the game.

Dean Matsuzaki, the NHL’s executive vice president of events, joined AccuWeather's 'Everything Under the Sun' podcast this week to discuss the upcoming game between the Flyers and Penguins. Matsuzaki shared insight about what goes into planning a large outdoor game and constructing the ice rink, as well as how weather can be a factor.

One key factor fans might not consider that players have to take into account is the wind, especially when one team has the wind at their backs and the other doesn't.

"If you're skating with [the wind] and then you turn around and skate [into the wind] you really do notice it," Matsuzaki said.

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In previous years, the NHL has instituted a hard whistle, where teams will change sides mid-period, so both teams can be equally affected by the weather.

Winds are forecast to arrive out of the east Saturday night at around 6-12 mph.

This is the second outdoor game the NHL has scheduled this season. On Jan. 1, the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins played the annual Winter Classic at Notre Dame Stadium, on the campus of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

This weekend's showdown is the 27th regular-season outdoor game in league history, according to The Flyers are playing in their fourth outdoor game, while it’s the fifth for Pittsburgh.

Weather delays have played a factor in outdoor hockey games before. The 2011 NHL Winter Classic in Pittsburgh was moved from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. due to wet weather.

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Pittsburgh Penguins' Kris Letang (58) dives to keep the puck away from Philadelphia Flyers' Sean Couturier (14) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Sun glare caused the 2012 game between the Flyers and New York Rangers at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia to be pushed back from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Work crews that have been constructing and maintaining the rink the past several weeks have constantly been monitoring the weather conditions around the clock to make the sure the rink is pristine condition.

NHL senior manager of facilities operations Derek King told last week that a thicker sheet of ice will help the crew on game day in case any inclement weather unfolds.

"We want to provide them the same sheet of ice they'd have inside," he said. "Obviously it's a little harder for us to control that week, we can't control the environment. So we'll monitor the weather the best we can and make changes as the weather comes in."

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