Ducks' Perreault, Jackman talk Dodger Stadium game
ANAHEIM – Chilly air isn't the prescription for someone breathing through a broken nose, but that wasn't going to stop Mathieu Perreault.
Perreault broke his nose in a nasty collision about a week before the 2011 Winter Classic. His team at the time, the Washington Capitals, was about to play the Pittsburgh Penguins in front of 68,000 fans at Heinz Field in a crescendo to the popular HBO "24/7" reality show.
"I was supposed to wear a shield, but I only wore a big visor," Perreault said. "I was kind of a game-time decision.
"I really wanted to play. If it wasn't for that game, I would have probably not played. I kind of forced myself back into it earlier than I would have. All my family was there, and I really wanted to play that game. Honestly, if it wasn't for that game, I would have probably not played at all."
Perreault ended up playing only about 11 minutes in a game that was pushed back from a daytime to an evening start due to rain. But his Capitals beat the Penguins 3-1, led by Eric Fehr's two goals.
It was an easy decision for Perreault, who will make more outdoor memories with the Anaheim Ducks when they play the rival Los Angeles Kings on Jan. 25 at Dodger Stadium. The teams will play Tuesday night at Honda Center in the first of two games that serve as precursors to the Stadium Series showdown featuring Southern California's teams.
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Perreault and Tim Jackman are among the Ducks who have outdoor-game experience. For Perreault, the event takes him back to his carefree childhood days.
"Growing up in northern Canada, that's all we do," he said. "When I was younger, when there wasn't school, we'd go out all day. We'd go all morning, all afternoon. I was out there all the time."
The Jan. 25 game brings the same sentimentality for Jackman, who played in the 2011 Heritage Classic at Calgary's McMahon Stadium. Jackman was taken back to a boyhood spent in the cold winters of Minnesota and North Dakota with that game.
"The last time I skated outside [prior to the Heritage Classic], I was probably 10 to 14 years old," Jackman said. "You just felt like a kid playing hockey. It was a great experience."
Neither Perreault nor Jackman have been to Dodger Stadium, and both are new to Southern California after arriving in Anaheim this season. But both are aware of the iconic history of the venue and the uniqueness of an outdoor game played where there are palm trees in the bullpens. One of the most striking visuals in sports is the view of the hills from the top of the ballpark. Turn around and walk out the concourse, and the opposite view is a postcard-esque look at downtown Los Angeles, with City Hall in the skyline.
For both players, the spectacle will be an almost distracting part of the game. Perreault said that previous outdoor experience was a good run-up to this one.
"I know a little bit what to expect," he said. "You want to go out and win that game, but there's so much around it. You almost forget about the two points. It's almost kind of a fun game to play. You forget about what's at stake, but it's still a hockey game that we have to try and win."
Jackman's family was among the 41,000 in the stands for the Heritage Classic in Calgary, when it was 18 degrees at opening faceoff. The wind chill made it feel about 2 degrees, but Jackman recalled, "[My family] just told me how fun it was."
A few days after Jackman was traded to Anaheim on Nov. 21, he received a team email about ticket requests for the Jan. 25 game.
"That's kind of when it hit me," Jackman said. "It was like, 'Yeah, this is an outdoor game here.' It's a special thing. It's a great experience."