BOSTON – There was plenty of grumbling about the TD Garden ice after a hot and humid day affected the skating surface during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Tuukka Rask even dropped a swear live on national television when asked about the ice after the game.
There were puddles on the ice during the Game 3 pregame warm-up, and the slippery conditions caused Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic to collide before the game even got going. It was agreed upon that the wet conditions outside and in the concourse helped transform the Garden into a steamy June arena that wasn’t exactly conducive to ideal hockey conditions.
It appeared those might be the very same steamy conditions for Monday night’s Game 6 as there was a visible fog over the Garden’s frozen sheet during morning skate.
Monday's game represents the latest date in June that Boston has ever hosted an NHL game. The players know what they’re dealing with for ice conditions -- bumpy and unpredictable.
“It’s June -- late June,” Chris Kelly said with a nod and a wink. “You expect it. Even up in Canada it’ll still be warm. The ice is going to be bad. It’s going to be bad for both sides and you expect that. The pretty plays may not always be there tonight because of the ice conditions.”
The Blackhawks specialize in “pretty plays” and skating speed, and the slushy ice is going to slow down the pace of game while taking away some of the nifty passes they like to try. While it’s true that it will be the same for both teams, it’s also true that bumpy, watery ice could much more adversely affect the Hawks than the Bruins.
"Everybody has been through it, and two teams are going through the same conditions," said Claude Julien. "Both teams are going to tell you the same truth: Keep the game simple and try and avoid those mistakes from over-handling pucks in those kinds of ice conditions.”
It remains to be seen if the heat and humidity ultimately has the same effect on the ice conditions that it did last week, but those conditions may have aided the Bruins in their 2-0 shutdown of the Blackhawks offense. The only time the B's significantly slowed down the Hawks attack was in slushy conditions of Game 3. It was the only game where Chicago was held under 30 shots on goal.
It will be interesting to see if the Boston summer humidity will earn another secondary assist for the Black and Gold in a do-or-die postseason game.