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Wednesday, May 29, 2013
UC ice holds up after Stones

By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings deemed the United Center's ice satisfactory Wednesday prior to Game 7 of their Western Conference semifinal series, despite a Rolling Stones concert the night before and high heat and humidity.

"It's fine," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of the ice after Wednesday's morning skate.

Temperatures are near 80 in Chicago with high humidity.

"I think it'll be OK," Hawks winger Viktor Stalberg said. "I know it sometimes makes it a little worse when it's humid and warm outside like it's been the last day or so. I felt the ice was pretty good.

"This late in the year, the ice isn't going to be great everywhere. That's just part of it. Usually the ice is pretty decent here. ... I'm sure the ice will get better during the day here too because you get some time to rest it and get a little colder in the building hopefully."

Patrick Kane said, "It seemed good today."

Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith thought the United Center's ice was better Wednesday than it has been in some of his past experiences.

"I thought the ice was OK," Smith said. "Actually, I think the ice has been worse here previous games. I thought the ice was decent. It hasn't been great, but it's all right.

"Both teams have to play on it. ... Sometimes it becomes a disadvantage for some puck-possession teams, but we're both puck-possession teams here, so both teams are going to deal with the same thing."

Players said they were prepared to deal with an unpredictable surface.

"I'll be prepared for any sort of dump-in," Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford said Tuesday. "I'll be able to attack it, bounces. Just be prepared for those crazy bounces."

Quenneville and his players rarely say anything negative about the United Center's ice surface, but it has a reputation for varying in quality. Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said Tuesday he understood it's hard to keep up the United Center's ice as consistently as other places like Detroit's Joe Louis Arena.

"Usually when we go to Joe Louis, it's one of the best ice surfaces in the league, I'd say," Hjalmarsson said. "I guess it's tougher here for the guys to have the ice in top shape with so many different events here. You've got the basketball, concerts -- I understand it's tough to keep the ice in great shape, but it's the same for both teams so you can't really complain about it."