The NHL has delayed both games scheduled at Lake Tahoe, Nevada this weekend from the afternoon to later in the day. Today’s game between the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights started at noon local time (pacific time) but had to be delayed because the ice was bad. They will pick up the Colorado and Vegas game at 9 p.m. local time, 12 midnight Eastern time. Sunday’s game between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers has been moved from noon to 4:30 p.m. local time, 7:30 p.m. eastern time.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) February 20, 2021
Sun Causing Havoc on the Ice
In their statement, the NHL said that direct sunlight with no cloud cover and unseasonably warm temperatures are causing an unsafe playing environment. The first period between Avalanche and Golden Knights started on time and they played the full first period. However, the ice was noticeably bad.
Gary Bettman on NBC said some players were comfortable to continue playing while others weren’t. He said this has been the most challenging outdoor game they’ve tried to pull off. The NHL has continuously held outdoor games since New Year’s Day of 2008.
Ice causing some issues at Lake Tahoe. Players and refs getting caught in ruts pic.twitter.com/cUkTIpdyLm
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) February 20, 2021
The NHL tried to play the second period a reasonable time after the first one. Ice crews worked for close to an hour. However, it was determined the ice wasn’t safe. If the Avalanche and Golden Knights were able to play one more period, it could be declared a full-game, and the third period would not have to be played.
The NHL’s experience with Saturday’s game forced them to delay Sunday’s game between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers.
What this Means for the Future
Thankfully, no one was hurt because of the poor ice surface. However, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the game between Colorado and Vegas goes. It is incredibly uncommon for two periods of a hockey game to be separated by such a length of time. Players will need to keep themselves loose throughout the night and will need to get ready again to play. However, this year has been filled with uncommon obstacles due to the pandemic. The Avalanche and Golden Knights have both had their seasons postponed because of Covid, and both went deep into the bubble playoffs. Dealing with unusual circumstances has been more normal for both these teams.
It is unfortunate for the NHL. The backdrop of the lake and the mountains was going viral in the sports community. Tom Brady liked a photo of the ice surface that appeared on Bleacher Report’s Instagram page. Saturday’s game being postponed can put a considerable block to the league’s television ratings because it has to be restarted at midnight in the eastern time zone.