CHICAGO - A heat wave will abate in Chicago on Monday, with temperatures dropping 10 to 15 degrees, and the cooler weather might have an effect on Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Saturday night, in Game 1, after an afternoon in which temperatures neared 90 degrees, the ice quickly got soft and chippy each period, and controlling the puck was difficult for both teams.
It happens this time of year. Combine warm temperatures with 22,000 fans, and the quality of the ice is always a question.
"The nice weather we've been having doesn't treat the ice very well," said Dave Bolland of the Blackhawks. "You can't handle the puck or play around with it. You can't dipsy-doodle with it. You get it and go. The few times I tried to play around with it, it got away from me, and the guys were gone."
Because of the possibility of committing turnovers, the players are going to be less likely to carry the puck for any distance. If the ice is soft, they will dump it down the rink and chase it, hoping to make the opposing team make the mistakes.
"We had pucks hopping over our sticks," said Chicago's Troy Brouwer. "It was hard to control. I think you'll see crisper hockey next time."
The players aren't complaining. It is the same for both teams, and, as with everything else, the team that does the better job of adjusting will have the advantage.
"I don't think it's any worse than it was in Anaheim or Carolina or whatever," Chris Pronger of the Flyers said.
"As you progress in the playoffs, the ice usually gets softer. It's tough to keep [the arena] that cold. We could do it . . . but it would be about 4 degrees in the building. I'm sure the fans wouldn't appreciate that very much, wearing parkas in June."
It could be somewhat better Monday night, however, with players able to handle the puck more confidently. There might be fewer of the giveaways that led to several goals for both sides in the opener. We'll see.
"While it is the Windy City, we can't open up the doors and let all that cold wind in," Pronger said.