This weekend, the NHL will continue a longstanding tradition and heads outdoors. On Saturday, the Avalanche and Golden Knights will kick off a double-dip on the shore of Lake Tahoe. The Flyers and Bruins will play Game 2 on Sunday.
Saturday’s game, the 31st tilt without a roof, will be played atop a golf course. The fastest game on earth is heading to the green — the fairway of the par-5 18th hole at Edgewood Tahoe Resort on the southern shore of Lake Tahoe in Stateline, Nev., to be exact. And while it’s disappointing that fans won’t be able to attend, this game will have one of the most beautiful backdrops in the history of the sport: Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
At 6,224 feet above sea level, it will be the second-highest locale for an outdoor contest; the Avs and Kings faced off at 6,621 feet in last year’s Stadium Series at the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo.
And while the two teams will be squaring off in a picturesque setting, there are still two big points up for grabs. Vegas will hit the ice just one point back of West Division leader St. Louis, with the Avalanche four points behind them in third place.
The teams just split a two-game set, with Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury pitching a shutout on Sunday and Avs forward Nazem Kadri scoring a game-winner with 41 seconds remaining on Tuesday.
Fleury will get the start for the Golden Knights on Saturday. He is one of 13 goaltenders with multiple outdoor games under his belt, although he has never won one. He lost in the 2011 Winter Classic and the 2014 Stadium Series with the Penguins (he served as the backup in Pittsburgh’s 2017 Stadium Series win over the Flyers). Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar has not announced his starter.
The Avalanche will also be debuting their reverse retro jerseys, which pay homage to the team’s roots as the Quebec Nordiques.
REVERSE RETROS: SN ranks all 31 jerseys, from worst to first
When is NHL Outdoors: Golden Knights vs. Avalanche?
- Date: Saturday, Feb. 20
- Time: 3 p.m. ET
What channel is NHL Outdoors: Golden Knights vs Avalanche on?
- TV channel (U.S.): NBC
- Live stream (U.S.): NBCSports, fuboTV
- TV channel (Canada): SN, TVAS
- Live stream (Canada): SN Now
Mike Tirico will call the play-by-play for NBC while Eddie Olczyk and Brian Boucher will serve as analysts.
Saturday’s pregame ceremonies will include frontline workers: Aurora C. Gooch will sing the national anthem and U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Jared Elliott will deliver the game puck to nurse Daryl Braga, nursing facility worker Miranda Miller and firefighter/paramedic Dusty R. Gooch (Aurora’s father), who will present the puck to game officials.
Nathan MacKinnon will be doing what?
With the game on a golf course, the first intermission Saturday will showcase, well, golf. Avalanche captain Nathan MacKinnon will head over to the par-3 17th hole and take a swing.
Why? Well, back in 2011 Joe Sakic, the Hockey Hall of Famer and now Avalanche GM, nailed a hole-in-one in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at the very same spot. Using an 8-iron, Sakic’s lefty tee shot needed just two short bounces before dropping in.
If MacKinnon makes an ace, then the NHL will donate $1 million to the NHL/NHLPA Learn to Play program. The only thing he won’t be able to recreate, if he matches his GM’s feat, will be what looked like Sakic high-fiving every fan in attendance.
Will there be fans?
Over the previous 30 outdoor contests, more than 1.6 million fans braved (mostly) cold stadiums to attend a once-in-a-lifetime game. The 2020 Winter Classic had the second-largest crowd in NHL history, with 85,630 fans watching the host Stars beat the Predators 4-2 at the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still going, these will be the first outdoor games without fans in attendance.
Who will perform Saturday?
Green Day will continue its collaboration with the NHL as it debuts its newest song, “Here Comes the Shock,” during the second intermission of Golden Knights-Avs.
At the 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis, Green Day performed “Fire, Ready, Aim” before the festivities got underway. The band also rocked Enterprise Center during the second intermission.
The NHL is surely hoping this year’s performance will be, um, cleaner.