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Size matters, or is Staples Center ice smaller than standard?

SportsStaples CenterLos Angeles KingsTD GardenBoston BruinsChicago Blackhawks

In the olden days, NHL teams had quirky rinks that didn’t conform to the standard size of 85 feet wide by 200 feet long.

The ice surfaces at Boston Garden and Chicago Stadium were notorious for being 10 to 15 feet short of the regulation 200-foot length, with the distance coming out of the neutral zone. The Bruins and Blackhawks for years supposedly tailored their rosters to take advantage of that.

But now every rink is the same size -- or is it?

Blues Coach Ken Hitchcock, speaking after his team prepared for Game 3 of its opening-round playoff series against the Kings, said Saturday that the ice surface at Staples Center is “way smaller” than it should be. He said knowing that helped him prepare his team for its last visit here, on March 5. In that game, the Blues led 4-1 in the second period and 4-2 entering the third period, but the Kings rallied for a 6-4 victory.

“It’s such a different game here with the smaller ice surface,” Hitchcock said. “It’s such a different game. We made changes the last game to put in this building and hopefully we can continue to make those changes and play 60 minutes."

He said other NHL rinks are "more rectangular," and that the difference at Staples Center is apparent in the corners.

“The corners come up quick,” he said. “You’re around the net, you feel like you’re in the corner.

“It’s just a rounded building. They’re the same surface, but the configuration here, for me, makes it a different feel. A different feel for the on-ice players, a different feel for the coaches. So things happen a lot quicker in this building and you’ve just got to be ready for them.”

Lee Zeidman, senior vice president and general manager of Staples Center, the Nokia Theatre and L.A. Live, said he had not previously heard anyone say the surface was -- or felt -- smaller than it should be.

“I've never seen a rectangular rink. We are 85 feet by 200 feet, which is the standard for NHL arenas,” he said.

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