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Winter Classic won't be snowed out this season

PHILADELPHIA -- Overlooking left field, snowflakes never stopped falling high above this refashioned ballpark.

Unfortunately for the NHL, these were just digital white flakes forming around the Winter Classic logo on the Citizens Bank Park scoreboard.

For those keeping score at home, that's no runs, no hits, no snow.

League officials had hoped for "Buffalo snow," the description used for when the flakes highlighted the wintery scene at Ralph Wilson Stadium in the inaugural Classic in 2008. They'll have to settle for temperatures in the 40s, partly cloudy skies, and wind for the NHL's showcase event Monday between Eastern Conference rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers.

Warm weather hit Friday in Philadelphia and was expected to last until Sunday night.

The NHL's old-timers will get a late start on the first major event of the Winter Classic weekend.

The alumni game between former members of the Flyers and Rangers has been pushed back two hours to a 3 p.m. start today at Citizens Bank Park (Ch. 5 & Versus). The game, which includes stars including Eric Lindros and Mark Messier, was rescheduled because of a forecast that calls for temperatures in the 50s and sunny skies. The unseasonably warm weather caused soft ice Friday and forced a media skate to be pushed to late afternoon.

The league will use today's game as bit of a test run for Monday's Winter Classic.

"As long as it doesn't rain," said Flyers forward Danny Briere, who toured the park Friday.

Rain is always a worry because it could increase the chance for injuries.

Conditions were near perfect for the first three Winter Classics in Buffalo, Chicago and Boston, with seasonal temperatures and, in Buffalo, plenty of snow. Last year's game at Pittsburgh was switched from an afternoon start to 8 p.m. to avoid predicted rain. The rain drops and slick ice still hit.

Forecasters are predicting moderate temperatures for Monday, which should allow the outdoor game to start on time.

"The cold front should come through by Sunday night," Weather Channel lead meteorologist Tom Moore said. "The temps will start dropping into the 30s and it won't go up too much after that. There are really no storms coming this week anywhere in the United States."

Construction crews used mallets to pound in fake snow, the same stuff used on Hollywood sets, into the outfield grass behind the rink that stretches from first base to third base.

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