Baby, it’s windy outside: Leafs, Caps prepare for gusty game

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Shortly before he walked outside Friday at Navy’s Memorial Stadium, Mike Babcock said: “Hang on to your hat.”

Babcock’s Toronto Maple Leafs and the Washington Capitals might want to hang on to everything with high wind in the forecast for Saturday night’s outdoors Stadium Series game at the U.S. Naval Academy. The storm knocking out power and disrupting travel up and down the East Coast forced both teams to practice indoors Friday, where they were left to contemplate what sustained winds of 15-20 mph and gusts as high as 32 mph might have on their game.

“I have no idea,” Maple Leafs centre Tyler Bozak said. “Hopefully we’re skating with the wind more than we are against it.”

The wind is enough of a factor that the game could be postponed to Sunday. The glass had to be removed from the on-field rink because of safety concerns.

The NHL has played 24 previous regular-season outdoor games and this one could easily see the worst conditions when it comes to wind. Temperatures just above freezing would not rank it among the coldest, but there are concerns how the wind could make a real difference.

“I haven’t played in anywhere it’s been super windy,” said Maple Leafs winger James van Riemsdyk, who will be taking part in his fifth outdoor game. “It’ll definitely make a unique dynamic, I know. It seems like in today’s game there’s lots of high flips and stuff like that, so it’ll be interesting to see how the puck reacts getting flipped in the air and a gust of wind comes up.”

Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby thinks strong wind would only possibly affect dump-ins or high flips of the puck and that it could make it difficult for players to keep their eyes open when it’s head on. Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen is more concerned for the skaters — and that’s a shared concern.

“If you have a turnover and you’ve got to backcheck, that’s probably when it’s going to be a little tough,” Capitals centre Nicklas Backstrom said.

NHL players are more accustomed to climate-controlled arenas — a long way from their younger days when playing on frozen ponds or lakes meant dealing with the conditions.

“It won’t feel good on your body, that’s for sure,” Toronto forward Mitch Marner said. “It probably won’t help with the puck or anything like that.”

Capitals coach Barry Trotz was more worried when the wind rumbled around trees outside his house Thursday night and joked about a coin toss to pick directions like a football game.

Previous outdoor games have included teams changing ends at the 10-minute mark of the third period to negate an unfair wind advantage. At the least, that’s likely, and players are prepared for the wind even though they don’t know exactly what it’ll do.

“The wind wouldn’t be ideal, but part of playing these games is you have to deal with the weather,” Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly said. “She was a little windy out there (Friday), but hopefully she clears up a little bit for us.”

Rielly, who played outdoors on New Year’s Day in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 2014 and again in Toronto in 2017, figures wind would be more difficult to deal with than snow. But the 23-year-old has a sunny disposition about wacky weather.

“It definitely has an impact on the game,” Rielly said. “But that’s all part of the experience. Players, two teams have to deal with it. It’s not going to change the game plan or anything. It’s just going to make it a little bit more difficult and it might be kind of fun.”

Just Posted

Alberta hiring more paramedics and buying new ambulances, none for Red Deer

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer is not concerned the provincial government didn’t… Continue reading

‘My nightmare began again’: Close call as bus carrying Humboldt crash survivor rear-ended

CALGARY — A terrifying ordeal for Humboldt Broncos survivor Ryan Straschnitzki this… Continue reading

Halifax airport operations normalize after Boeing 747 runway overshoot

HALIFAX — The Halifax Stanfield International Airport has resumed normal operations a… Continue reading

Bentley family left without a home grateful for community support

Central Albertans are coming together to support a Bentley family left homeless… Continue reading

Red Deer RCMP ready for new mandatory alcohol screening law

Red Deer RCMP are ready to enforce a new law intended to… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer and District Kennel Club Dog Show at Westerner Park

The Red Deer and District Kennel Club is holding a dog show… Continue reading

Pence aide out of running to be Trump’s next chief of staff

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top pick to replace chief of staff… Continue reading

Swath of South faces wintry mess: Snow, sleet, freezing rain

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain… Continue reading

‘I killed my best friend’: Opioids’ fatal grip on mayor, pal

MOUNT CARBON, Pa. — Janel Firestone found her son — the 24-year-old,… Continue reading

Brothers, 20, face second-degree murder charge in death of teen: police

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Police west of Toronto say two brothers have been… Continue reading

A young mayor, his friend, and a fatal attraction to opioids

MOUNT CARBON, Pa. — Janel Firestone found her son — the 24-year-old,… Continue reading

GM fights to retain key tax credit amid plant closing plans

WASHINGTON — General Motors is fighting to retain a valuable tax credit… Continue reading

TTC union asks provincial government to step in on transition to Presto

TORONTO — The union representing transit workers in Canada’s most populous city… Continue reading

Small pot growers find roadblocks on path to microcultivation licences

Yan Boissonneault’s daughter was turning blue. Without warning, his baby had stopped… Continue reading

Most Read