The Washington Times - September 21, 2011, 02:25AM

BALTIMORE | To be fair, Tuesday night’s ice conversation wasn’t like Chris Clark complaining about Verizon Center’s surface in 2009 that led to this look (by yours truly) at the problems there.

But anyone at 1st Mariner Arena could see the puddles – and earlier in the day saw the cracks all over the ice. So everyone was asked about it. Here’s what they had to say:

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Alex Ovechkin

“It’s kind of hard because the ice was not that good. And it was first our game, and we didn’t even play exhibition, so it was kind of funny.”

Was it warm around ice?

“It was very warm. It was like Winter Classic game. You can see the ice was not that good and between the boards and ice there was lots of holes. But it is what it is. We just play over it.”

Do you hold back when conditions are like that?

“Of course you think about more when you go to the boards in the corners, especially in the corners the ice is not that good. I don’t know how many times [equipment manager] Brock [Miles] check our skates because it was holes and ice was soft. But it’s over, thank God nobody gets hurt and everybody feel healthy.”

Bruce Boudreau

“Well, the conditions of the ice weren’t very good. In all fairness to the ice, the heat – in the third period they scraped it, and when we came out I said, ‘Oh good, it looks like it’s dry.’ you can tell five minutes in the heat [took over.] … It wasn’t conducive to a real smooth skilled game. But it was the same for both teams.”

Nicklas Backstrom

“It was same for both teams, I think. It’s not an excuse, I think, for losing this game. We didn’t come up to the level we’re used to be.”

How did it change the game?

“It’s a lot of dump and chase. There wasn’t a lot of passes, and the puck was bouncing. It’s not an excuse. It was the same thing for both teams. I think we maybe should’ve scored a goal or something.”

Sean Collins

“I never worry about getting hurt. It’s just, you see how wet the ice is, sometimes you get a puck and you kind of worry about if you try to handle it, is it going to get stuck in the water? I just tried to focus on moving the puck quick and getting it off my stick.”

Were there gaps in the ice around the boards?

“It was a little bit chippy. I know I got tripped up once or twice out there. Baltimore did a really good job of putting this on for us. It was really tough conditions, but both teams had to play on it, so we have no excuses.”

Predators coach Barry Trotz

“When you have a full building, and this part of the country is very warm and humid, and just didn’t get the building cold enough. It wasn’t great. But it is what it is. We played [Monday] night in Florida, and it wasn’t a whole lot better – just it was a whole lot less water.”