Colorado Springs, CO-- The Avalanche and the Kings got a feel for the ice on Friday. Each team practiced at Falcon stadium ahead of their nationally televised showdown.
Colorado Springs will be the center of the hockey world on Saturday. Roughly 45,000 fans are expected to attend.
"Here it feels like everything's so close and intimate," Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar said. "Just the way they've done the ice is pretty cool. It's going to be fun. It's not like your backyard rink or pond hockey game. It'll be a pretty intense one."
At 6,621 feet, the Stadium Series showdown will be played at the highest elevation in NHL history. The higher elevation is having more of an impact than some may expect.
"You think you're used to playing in altitude, but coming up here, we were sucking wind out there," said captain Gabriel Landeskog. "But at the end of the day, it's gonna be a blast."
The game also marks a crucial stretch for the Avalanche. They enter the final third of the season in pursuit of the top seed in the Western Conference.
"It's kind of weird having this loose atmosphere this late in the season at such an important time," said forward Nathan MacKinnon. "We have a team to chase and a team right behind us so it's definitely an intense time of the year."
"We realize how big an event this is and how big of a party it's going to be, but once it comes down to it, there's a hockey game to be played, Landeskog said. "We realize that and we'll be ready. We're super excited."