Stanley Cup finals Game 4: Keeping the ice and tempers cool
As the NHL playoffs have extended deeper into June, the condition of the ice has become a problem in many cities. Throw in the fact that most arenas are occupied by concerts and other events between games and you have a lot of work for the ice maintenance crew and can expect a lot of odd bounces during games.
At least this isn’t the old Boston Garden, which had no air conditioning. It turned into a sauna in the springtime and suffered power outages in the 1988 and 1990 playoffs.
Bruins Coach Claude Julien told reporters the ice was fine for his team’s morning skate Wednesday.
“Well, I know I was flying. I don’t know if you guys noticed,” he said, drawing laughter from the assembled media horde.
Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin said the ice would be manageable for the 5 p.m. Pacific time start. “It’s the same for both teams,” said Sedin, whose team will take a 2-1 series lead into Wednesday's game. “We’ve been on this ice before.”
The aftermath of Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome’s hit on Boston winger Nathan Horton in Game 3 led both teams to make lineup adjustments, though neither would specify its plans. Rome was suspended four games Tuesday for what the NHL termed a late hit that caused serious injury to Horton, who was diagnosed with a severe concussion. Horton isn’t expected to play again in the finals.
Both teams were also cautioned against repeating the finger-wagging, biting and post-whistle pushing and shoving that marred the first few games. Starting Wednesday, referees can assess a minor penalty and a misconduct penalty against players who got involved in extracurricular nonsense.
“We obviously realize that nothing good comes from all that garbage after the whistles,” Vancouver center Manny Malhotra said. “Our focal point all year has been playing between the whistles.
“Given the nature of playoff hockey there’s going to be hostility, there’s going to be animosity built up as the games go on, but our focus has to be getting back to playing between the whistles.”
The Bruins said the same thing.
“I still think there’s going to be some emotion out there. It’s an important game,” forward Rich Peverley said. “They’re obviously a pretty intense team and we are too. We’ve got to keep it between the whistles and keep their power play off the board. They have one of the best power plays in the league so you don’t want to give them too many chances.”
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-- Helene Elliott in Boston
Photo: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome skates away after checking Boston Bruins right wing Nathan Horton to the ice during the first period in Game 3 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals in Boston. Credit: John Tlumacki / Associated Press / The Boston Globe