The Washington Times - September 20, 2011, 12:09PM

BALTIMORE | There are certain risks that come with playing an NHL game in an arena that hasn’t hosted a professional hockey game in 14 years – namely facilities and the ice surface.

And while it wasn’t to the point where traffic cones needed to be put onto the rink at 1st Mariner Arena to indicate problem areas, there were less-than-ideal conditions for the Capitals’ morning skate Wednesday.


Before we got on it, it looked really good. But it’s warm in the arena, so it got chopped up pretty easily,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “A little bit – I wouldn’t say worried but just to see when you’ve got 11,000 people in there and there’s more heat in the building tonight how it is affected.”

Nicklas Backstrom agreed with Boudreau’s assertion that no matter what, “it’s the same for both teams.”

Added Brooks Laich: “The ice was fine. Any ice is good ice.”

The Caps went on for their morning skate a half-hour earlier than expected, with a group that included Alexander Ovechkin, Mike Knuble, Marcus Johansson, Alexander Semin, Mike Green and Karl Alzner.

Players understandably had low expectations for the quality of the ice.

The ice was actually better than I thought,” Green said.

But quietly, players were less than complimentary of the rink, calling it “a little rough” or worse. From a few rows up in the stands, it looked sloppy.

But Boudreau pointed out that players understand the situation.

They’re aware. They skate on it. They know it better than me. But what can you do? Both teams are there; it’s an ice surface,” he said. “They’ve played on, in their lives, some ice surfaces that weren’t really up to snuff – and I’m not saying this won’t be, but they’re going to be working on it today.”

Update: As of 4 p.m., there were big cracks in the ice visible as high up as the press box.

Update 2: At 5 p.m., a Caps spokesman said the cracks were below the surface - something normal with a newer sheet of ice. He said the more people skate on it, it will improve, adding that it won’t affect game conditions.