The biggest question usually surrounding the lead up to any NHL outdoor game is how will the weather affect the game, if at all. Last year in St. Louis, the NHL was concerned that rain and unseasonably temperatures would cause delays — and even a possible reschedule — should the weather not cooperate.
This year’s Winter Classic between the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres in Citi Field on Monday at 1 p.m. isn’t expected to have any major disruptions, but sun glare has caused puck drop to be moved to around 1:25 p.m. to compensate.
Even though higher temperatures or precipitation aren’t expected, there are still changes that may need to be put into place to deal with the unpredictability of the weather.
As such, let’s break down the possible weather scenarios to get you ready for the NHL’s 10th Winter Classic.
Winter Classic forecast
Thanks to Weather.com we can give you a pretty good estimate of what things will look like on New Year’s Day.
Puck drop is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday, give or take some time depending on the pregame ceremonies.
While the weather looks innocent at first glance, there are a few things that could cause some issues.
Outdoor games can, in fact, be delayed by the sun. The 2017 Centennial Classic in Toronto was delayed a half hour thanks to sun glare making things impossible to see with a white sheet of ice.
With the weather in New York expected to be mainly sunny throughout the day, we could see delays during the game depending on how bad the glare is. Temperatures are likely too low to see the ice melt due to the sun, but stoppages to deal with ice problems are also fairly common in outdoor games.
If anything, winds of the expected 10 to 20 miles per hour could cause some issues if the NHL deems it to give a team an unfair advantage. Should the wind become a factor, the Sabres and Rangers will swap sides halfway through a period — 10 minutes into regulation time or 2:30 into overtime.
This process of dealing with high winds has popped up here and there during these outdoor events, and at this point it is old hat to players and officials in these games.
Should, somehow, the weather in New York change drastically enough to cause the game to become unplayable, there are a few scenarios.
First, if the game isn’t tied after two periods, the NHL deems it “official” and whoever is winning after the 40 minute mark will be declared the victor.
Second, if the game is tied after two periods, we would go straight to a shootout to decide a winner. Overtime would be skipped completely for efficiency, but both teams would earn one point.
Third, if the weather is too bad for that shootout, it would take place before the Sabres visit the Rangers on Jan. 18 at Madison Square Garden. A bit unorthodox, but the points would be dealt out eventually.
And finally, if for some reason the game is unplayable before two periods are up, it would be rescheduled to a later date outdoors. This is a very unlikely scenario since the weather shouldn’t be too much of a factor but hey, stranger things have happened!
As always, we’ll keep you updated before Monday’s game should things not go off as planned.