What the Ducks noticed in their Friday practice at Dodger Stadium before the NHL Stadium Series game against the Kings on Saturday night was how their jerseys were especially drenched.
“I’m still sweating, and practice has been over for a half hour,” said Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, who’s expected to start Saturday when the puck is scheduled to drop at 7:15 p.m. “You try to get enough fluid in you, get your mask off to let your head cool.”
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said Friday’s 65% humidity in 64-degree conditions will ensure his team will bring plenty of drinks to its bench area, which is positioned behind where second base would usually be fixed. Similar weather is expected Saturday.
“If today’s any indication, there’ll probably be a lot of guys cramping up, given the amount of sweat and fluids they’ll be losing,” Ducks forward Dustin Penner said.
While the ice was a little mushy during the Kings’ 4:15 p.m. practice Friday, Ducks forward Corey Perry said the ice was nearly up to Honda Center standards by the time the Ducks practiced after sunset.
“You never thought it would happen here in California,” Perry said of Saturday’s outdoor game that follows previous NHL versions in snowy Michigan, sub-zero Edmonton and rainy Pittsburgh. “How are they going to build ice outside with the sun beating down on the ice. You thought it’d melt each and every night.”
Penner said the ice was “a little sticky … maybe a few pucks will be flat, then it will be, follow the bouncing puck.”
Embracing the baseball theme, many of the Ducks wore eye-black to lessen the glare of the stadium lights, but Hiller said he saw the puck fine, and Perry said he wasn’t sure he’d repeat the practice Saturday.
Ducks equipment manager Doug Shearer brought both of his skate sharpening machines to the stadium, but he said no player recommended an adjustment following the practice.
Shearer said if anything changes Saturday, he’ll have one machine in the visiting dugout and another in the tunnel.
“We can adjust five or six of them per break,” Shearer said. “They also have some quick-release ones we can just replace.”
As for the game, Boudreau said he expects a repeat of the intense affair Thursday night, when the Ducks took a 2-1 victory over the Kings at Honda Center.
Boudreau said he expects his team to set aside the distractions of a likely sellout crowd and everything else at game time.
“I’ll have something good to say, I think, but knowing our guys, the focus … they’ll look at the crowd in warmups and the national anthem, but once the puck drops, I think our group will be pretty focused,” Boudreau said. “I gotta believe they won’t change their game, so I don’t think we’ll want to change ours.”
“There’s always a lot of pride on the line when you’re playing your rivals,” Penner said. “But when you’re playing the team 40 miles down the road, the series tied 1-1 and it’s the first-ever outdoor game, that just magnifies the bragging rights.”
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