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Devils Pleased With Ice Conditions For Stadium Series at MetLife

Ahead of their Stadium Series tilt with the Philadelphia Flyers, the New Jersey Devils are pleased with the ice conditions at MetLife Stadium.



New Jersey Devils
(AP Photo/Tom Canavan)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New Jersey Devils were pleased to find that the ice quality at MetLife Stadium was actually quite good in their first test run on the outdoor rink. That’s good news considering the Winter Classic this past January saw sticky ice conditions at the outdoor rink in Seattle.

The Devils were the final of three teams to hit the ice for practice on Friday night as the sun was descending and the lights in the stadium flashed on. After the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers each held their own practices followed by their individual family skates earlier in the day, the ice quality did not falter despite the direct sunlight from earlier in the day and varying temperatures outdoors.

“Obviously, there are differences but I felt the ice was really good today and it definitely helps that it’s a night game,” Luke Hughes explained.

When asked how it felt to get to work in a different environment, Hughes responded, “It felt great. It’s definitely different. (The ice) looks much smaller with the stands not on top but you. It’s a really cool environment and we’re definitely really excited.”

As a result of good ice quality, the Devils were able to run their business as usual for their Friday night practice. Head coach Lindy Ruff lined the Devils up for their usual drills, deploying the same lines we’ve seen over the last handful of games. Then, the players welcomed their families to skate with them.

Ruff is no stranger to outdoor games. In fact, he was coined the “unofficial godfather” of outdoor games as he was involved in the first-ever NHL Winter Classic in 2008 as the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres when they took on the Pittsburgh Penguins at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.

Now, 16 years later, Ruff has witnessed the evolution of the outdoor event between then and now.

“It’s turned into a real spectacular event everywhere it’s been,” Ruff explained. “What an honor here to have it at MetLife. The ice was great out there, and the atmosphere (as well). We’re going to have tremendous weather for it, too.”

After the Devils got a feel of what the ice and outdoor conditions will be like on Friday, they’re looking ahead to Saturday as all business. That’s not to say they won’t enjoy the event and atmosphere. However, the Devils are chasing playoff position sitting on the outside against an opponent on the inside. It’s important to them that they take advantage of what’s essentially a four-point game.

“I mean, it’s crazy,” Hughes said. “I don’t know if I ever envisioned myself playing an outdoor game, but it’s something you dream of when you’re a kid. Today was a really fun day for our team and our families. Tomorrow is a business day.”

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