Walk into Baltimore Arena Tuesday and you’ll immediately notice a difference from two years ago in the temperature of the building, which is much colder than it was for the inaugural Baltimore Hockey Classic.
Aided by Mother Nature with a nice, fall September day — the NWS is predicting a high temperature of 74 degrees in Charm City today – keeping the 51-year-old arena cool should be less daunting of a task, considering the adjustments the building staff made for the Capitals’ second appearance here.
Still, even with all the changes to improve ice conditions and the cooler outside weather, the ice conditions weren’t perfect for the morning skate.
“It wasn’t very good, got real chippy real quick and almost made these big gouges in the ice that could possibly be a little dangerous, but I’m sure they’ll fix that up for today,” Mike Green said. “You just have to be aware. There’s some rinks that have better ice than others and we’ve all played on crappy ice at some time in our careers and in our lives. It’s just a matter of keeping it simple and doing the right things.”
Nicklas Backstrom and goaltender Braden Holtby were less critical, though, and said they saw an improvement from the 2011 contest.
“It was a little better than last time we played here,” Backstrom said. “I would say it’s alright. Not like Verizon, but it’s fine now, better than last time.”
Said Holtby: “I thought it was good for me out there. Usually as a goalie, when it’s bad it kind of gets rough after you skate on it when it’s left wet — that’s when it really causes problems. It was good out there. I think it was a lot better than the last time we played here, which is great, and I don’t think it will be an excuse of any kind.”
The surface will be put to the test tonight at 7 p.m. when the Capitals host the Bruins. If you’re not planning on attending, Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin will call game tonight on CSN Washington.
>> Brooks Laich, who hasn’t taken part in a full team practice this training camp because of a left hip flexor injury, skated solo this morning at KCI. There remains no timeline for when he will be able to participate in regular practice.
>> Mikhail Grabovski skated at KCI with Group B Tuesday and may also take part in the warmup skate in Baltimore, just to get more work in because his visa issues forced him to miss the first five days of camp.
Wednesday is a scheduled off day for the team – two are required during training camp under the new CBA – but Coach Adam Oates said if they are allowed, Grabovski will skate with coaches then while the rest of the players are off.