Down the road from the Kings’ hotel are three tennis courts. Perhaps the team can get in a little practice there tomorrow, although ice skates on a clay court might not work. It couldn’t be much worse, though, than what the Kings and New Jersey Devils faced last night at Prudential Center, where the ice surface was more conducive to making snow-cones than playing hockey. After the game, Dustin Brown told reporters that trying to handle and pass the puck “was like playing with a tennis ball, quite honestly.’’
Of course, as Devils coach Peter DeBoer points out below, both teams had to deal with the ice, but there was chatter during the Eastern Conference Finals that the Prudential Center ice was subpar, so perhaps the Devils have adjusted a bit easier. Of course, the Kings don’t play on the world’s most beautiful sheet of ice in the world, at Staples Center, either, but this was something different. In the Western Conference Finals, the Kings played in Phoenix, where the air temperature exceeded 100 degrees. It’s humidity, though, more than air temperature, that is the enemy of ice, and it was humid in New Jersey for the previous couple days. Jarret Stoll and DeBoer talked about the ice, with both essentially minimizing its impact…
STOLL: “The ice wasn’t very good out there, so you never know if the puck is going to bounce or not. It was pretty sloppy. We got a lot of snow buildup as the game went on. You saw some bouncing pucks out there, but it was the same for both teams. You’ve got to battle through it and find a way to make crisp passes and plays, and find a way to get pucks on net.’’
DeBOER: “It’s the same for both teams. The ice conditions this time of year, regardless of where you’re playing, aren’t going to be great. It’s something you have to deal with.’’
It wasn’t just the ice, though. Independent of attempting to maintain good ice, it was just plain warm inside the building, even for the pampered reporters sitting high atop the building in the press box. It must have been torture for the players, working hard in all the gear. Anze Kopitar said the players will try to adjust a bit for Game 2.
KOPITAR: “You’ve just got to get a few more bottles of water in you, as much as you can. That’s about it.’’