(Reuters) - Dazzling sunshine forecast for New Year's Day in Washington, D.C. could delay the start of the outdoor Winter Classic between the Washington Capitals and the visiting Chicago Blackhawks.
The teams are scheduled to face off at 1 p.m. ET on Thursday at Nationals Park, home of Major League Baseball's Washington Nationals, but the glare off the ice could push the start time back by up to 90 minutes.
By 2:30 p.m. on a winter's day at Nationals Park, shadows from the baseball stands cover the entire rink, which has been constructed in the middle of the field, and conditions should then be ideal for the players.
"Any delay, and hopefully there won't be one, will be a minimal delay," National Hockey League (NHL) Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told reporters on Wednesday.
"Nobody wants to delay the game so if there's any way we can avoid delaying the game, we're going to avoid delaying the game."
Daly said a final decision on the start time would be made on Thursday after further discussions with the coaches and players.
"Everyone keeps asking about the glare on the ice, but it didn't really affect me that much," Capitals forward Jay Beagle said in a blog posted after team practice on Wednesday.
"The ice conditions were really good. The glare was noticeable only a little bit going in the one direction, but besides that, it was pretty good.
"They (conditions) actually were better than I thought they'd be. It got a little bit slushy in the one corner because of the sun, but that was about it."
Thursday's forecast for Washington, D.C. predicts mainly sunny skies and a high temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius).
The Winter Classic is one of two outdoor games being staged by the NHL this season. In late February, the San Jose Sharks play the Los Angeles Kings at the home of the NFL's San Francisco 49ers.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Ed Osmond