CALGARY - In normal conditions, a frozen puck flying toward your head at 100 m.p.h. is a bit of a blood-pumper.
So Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price was pretty thankful there were no high-risers on the outdoor ice at McMahon Stadium Saturday as the Habs and Calgary Flames prepared for Sunday’s Heritage Classic.
“The guys were keeping them down for me today,” Price said. “It was nice.”
Netminders don’t need to take pucks in the head to prove they’re the toughest guys taking the ice at McMahon.
They’ve also likely got the most difficult job dealing with the differences on the outdoor surface.
“My angles felt off at first,” Price admitted after a sunny practice spent entirely in the Flames home end.
“It’s a different feeling out there because everything’s open. Once I adjusted to that, it was pretty normal.
“You definitely feel different. It’s not like standing in the Bell Centre where everything’s on top of you.
“All of a sudden, it feels like you’re standing in the middle of an open field.”
A couple of Flames forwards figure they will have the advantage in the first period if the sun is still peeking over the west side of the stadium for the first period. Price would have to deal with the glare that forced Flames backup Henrik Karlsson to put on a pair of sunglasses during Saturday’s practice.
“I think it favours the shooter,” said Flames forward Tim Jackman. “I don’t know how well Karlsson was able to see the puck. He had to put on sunglasses there for a while.
“Hopefully, it favours us. We’re going to be shooting that way for the first period.”
Matt Stajan didn’t hesitate giving the shooter the advantage, as well, but said both goaltenders will have to deal with the difficulties.
“That’s one of the challenges of playing outdoors,” Stajan said. “And that’s what makes it fun.”
Not so fun is the idea of losing pucks during scrambles because you can’t feel them or the thought of bitter cold making your undergarments a little crispy.
The goalies don’t have the luxury of taking 30-second shifts and heading to the heated benches to warm up. And they risk injury if their larger muscles don’t stay limber.
“Maybe stretch a little more,” Kiprusoff said when asked what he might do to keep warm.
Price jokingly suggested another basic exercise.
“Do some jumping jacks or something,” he said. “Really, it’s not that bad.
“The whole practice, I wasn’t cold at all. I think with the technology and underwear right now, it’s pretty irrelevant.”
“I think we have some pretty good underwear,” Kiprusoff agreed. “We have some pretty good stuff.”
Just not as much of that ‘good stuff’ as the other skaters.
“Yeah, that’s a nice little seat warmer they have,” mocked Price. “They’re all pampered.
“I think I might have to sneak in there for a few TV timeouts.”