- Joe McDonald, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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Playing hockey in the early summer means the ice conditions will not be ideal for either team. The NHL ice crew has done a terrific job given the situation in both the TD Garden and the United Center in Chicago.
With Game 6 of the SCF between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks set for Monday night at the Garden, and temperatures expected to reach the mid-90s in Boston, the teams understand it could be a little sloppy out there.
“Obviously with some fans in the building tonight, it’ll get obviously warmer,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “I thought the ice this morning was in pretty good shape, and they’ve done a good job. Walking in here yesterday with 90-plus degrees it was nice and cool in the arena."
Ever since the start of the Eastern Conference finals, the Garden has been equipped with a commercial cooling system to keep the arena cold.
“But those doors are going to open; I would imagine some heat will come in,” Julien said. “But those are conditions that you have to play with at this time of year. Everybody has been through it, and two teams are going through the same conditions. Both teams are going to tell you the same truth: Keep the game simple and try to avoid those mistakes from overhandling pucks in those kinds of ice conditions.”
Players on both teams complained about the ice after Game 3 in Boston.
The players had mixed feelings about the ice during Monday’s morning skate.
“It’s tough to say,” said Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. “It is pretty humid. This morning [the ice] was kind of rough but it could be great tonight, so it’s tough to say.”
“If there’s bad ice, you have to keep your game simple, which you want to do anyway,” added Seidenberg. “You want to play a straight-line game, especially when the ice is bad.”
The soft ice conditions before Game 3 of this series caused Bruins captain Zdeno Chara to catch a rut and collide with teammate Milan Lucic during warm-ups. Chara had to leave the ice and receive stitches above his left eye.
“It’s June -- late June,” said Bruins forward Chris Kelly with a smile. “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.”
BOSTON -- The last time the Stanley Cup finals were played on June 24 or later was in 1995, when the New Jersey Devils played the Detroit Red Wings. Playing hockey in the early summer means the ice conditions will not be ideal for either team.