Slush Balls at the Phone Booth

Unfrozen ice concerns Caps

By Chris Needham
|  Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009  |  Updated 1:30 PM EDT
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Slush Balls at the Phone Booth

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More Zambonis should be the cure to all of life's problems, especially Tom Poti's groin.

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You know the old joke about going to a fight, and having a hockey game break out?  Well, lately for Caps fans, they've been going to hockey games, but having swim meets break out.  The Phone Booth's ice isn't frozen, and the players are starting to complain.

After Saturday night's 3-1 win over the Panthers, defenseman Tom Poti said that the ice was "disgusting."  He went on to attribute its softness to a number of the injuries the team has had this season -- including his own groin pulls.

It's important for player's groins, but also for the Caps' Cup hopes. 

The softer the ice, the more it takes away from their speed and finesse game.  It makes it harder to skate.  It's tougher to accelerate, tougher to make sharp cuts, and as Poti's stretched-out groin can likely tell you, it makes stopping short almost impossible.

An NHL scout told the WaPo: "It's a good thing the Panthers had kind of an off-night because it slows a team like the Caps down.  Guys on their first stride were stumbling a bit, and that's huge for the Caps. It's an important part of their game, that separation speed."

Slushy ice also hurts puck movement.  The puck bounces and rolls more, and it doesn't settle flat as easily, leading to tougher passing and even rougher shooting.  And when the puck hits a wet spot or a pile of snow, it slows quickly, leading to broken plays or unexpected turnovers.

Ted Leonsis said he's concerned about the players, and the NHL is looking into the latest complaints -- which certainly aren't the first -- to see what can be done.

With a Cup run that'll last into the early part of the summer and DC's high humidity and temps, it's something they need to fix soon.

Chris Needham used to write Capitol Punishment before the ugly incident with the Zamboni.

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