Penguins Notebook: Ice here, in D.C. far from perfect; blame the heat
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Hard to believe, but the Penguins and Washington Capitals actually have agreed on a few things through the first four games of their second-round playoff series.
No one on either side has disputed that Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are pretty fair talents, that Capitals rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov got an exceptional start in Round 2 or that playing conditions at Mellon Arena -- and the Verizon Center, for that matter -- have been less than ideal.
Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau characterized the ice here as "sticky," and while that's not a term any of the Penguins used, they didn't disagree with his basic premise.
"This time of year, it gets hot and humid, and you can't do very much about it," defenseman Hal Gill said.
He described Mellon Arena's ice as "maybe a little more chunky," and Washington's as "a little more slushy."
Left winger Ruslan Fedotenko was even more diplomatic.
"I don't think [Mellon Arena's ice] is the best ice in the league, but it has its good days and its bad days," he said. "Sometimes, it's better than other times. ... It's pretty much average."
Both teams were scheduled to fly to Washington immediately after Game 4 last night because Game 5 is tonight at the Verizon Center.
It's uncommon, though hardly unheard of, for NHL teams to have playoff games on consecutive nights, but that's routine in the minor leagues and major-junior hockey, where games are clustered on weekends to maximize attendance.
Consequently, for players who have played at those levels in the recent past, having two games in less than 24 hours won't necessarily be a major issue.
"We'd play four [games] in five [days] and three in three, so I'm pretty used to that," Penguins forward Max Talbot said. "I don't think it's that big of a deal."
Capitals general manager George McPhee described himself as "disappointed" with the officiating in the Penguins' 3-2 overtime victory in Game 3 Wednesday, when the Penguins had a 7-2 edge in power plays.
McPhee's remarks don't qualify as one of the major upsets of this spring, because losing teams don't make a habit of praising the officials, a point Penguins coach Dan Bylsma made after the game-day skate a few hours before Game 4.
"In the history of hockey, the team that wins usually doesn't complain," he said. "They've won twice, and we've won once. The one game [the Capitals lost], they're talking about the refereeing.
"Refereeing is an extremely tough job. There are penalties that are out there that don't get called. They're out there. They make their judgment. They generally do a good job. It's a tough job."
Penguins minor leaguer Paul Bissonnette had surgery on his left wrist and forearm as a result of injuries in the Baby Penguins' 3-2 overtime victory Wednesday against Hershey, the Capitals' AHL affiliate.
The operation was performed to repair damage to tendons, nerves and an artery.
A recovery period of four to six months is anticipated, and there was no immediate word on the threat of any long-term impact on his career.
Bissonnette, 24, was hurt when Bears defenseman Greg Amadio inadvertently stepped on his wrist.
The NHL announced a 7:08 p.m. starting time for Game 6 of the Penguins-Capitals series Monday at Mellon Arena. ... The Penguins used the same lineup they had for Game 3, which meant forwards Petr Sykora and Eric Godard and defenseman Philippe Boucher were scratched. ... The Penguins will launch an HD-radio channel this fall, with programming devoted to the team, the league and the sport. It will be heard on 105.9 HD-2 and the Penguins' Web site.
First Published May 9, 2009 12:00 am