NHL players are conditioned not to complain about sub-par ice conditions that often. That’s not surprising, because even in the best areans the ice is often sub-par. That’s due to buildings just not being built for hockey.
But Coyotes goalie Mike Smith had good reason to complain about the ice conditions for the game against Pittsburgh last night, even though the issues were at his own rink.
In the third period, Arizona was leading the Penguins 3-1. Arizona was on a power play and Mike Smith went to try and play the puck. When the puck hit the boards, it died and went to an area where goalies can’t play the puck without taking a delay of game penalty. Josh Archibald of Pittsburgh then went and got the puck, froze Mike Smith, and put the puck into an empty net for a shorthanded goal.
Smith had every reason to be angry with the ice, and though his team won the game anyway, he let out his frustrations postgame.
“You can’t play on that [ice],” Smith told the Arizona Republic. “When you got other teams coming in complaining about it on the ice, we have to skate on that all the time. It’s not an excuse, but it’s something that has to get better. It’s like slush out there. That puck was going to come out of the trapezoid, and then it just ended up stopping dead right on the line. I didn’t know know if I could play it or not on the line, so I kind of panicked for a second and then after I got control of it, obviously the rest is history.”
“That play can’t happen. I understand that, but that ice is a joke.”
It’s rare to see a player criticize the ice conditions publicly, especially at his own arena. But compound the fact that all NHL rinks are multi-use, along with Arizona not being cold in the winter, and you get pucks skipping around on the ice like it had potholes on it.
“That play changed the complexion of the game,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett added. “I liked the way were were playing, just a hard, competing game. We got the lead, and things were going along pretty smooth. That play changed the complexion of the game. It gave them life, and we’re hanging on for dear life.”
“No one likes to make a mistake like that,” he said. “It was a time of the game where it can’t happen.”
Arizona did win the game 4-3 in overtime.