Stars and Canucks expect horrible ice for Game 3

TERRY JONES

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- From skating in sand to skating in quicksand?

You think they lost their legs in Game 1 here thanks to midnight madness and seven periods of play for openers?

Wait until Game 3 in Dallas!

Tomorrow's game will follow an afternoon NBA basketball game in the American Airlines Centre. And while game time is set for 9:30 p.m., there's wagering among Dallas scribes about what time the game between the Stars and Vancouver Canucks might actually start.

There's a great debate whether or not they can take out the boards and get the building turned over in time to drop the puck. And there's absolutely no debate whatsoever about how brutal the ice is going to be.

"Horrendous," said Daryl Reaugh, the former netminder who is the colour commentator on the Stars broadcasts.

"They've worked miracles there this year because of the team the Stars have. When it was slushy all those years before, that was okay because of the team they've had," said Reaugh.

"This team is built to play a different game and the better ice the better. Everyone has been shocked because it hasn't really been much of a factor this year.

But the Dallas Mavericks play the San Antonio Spurs in an afternoon game.

And that's if the first game of the NBA double header doesn't go long.

And how good will the ice be for Game 4 Tuesday? The Dallas Desperados of Arena League Football have the place Monday.

On the other hand ...

"I don't think it'll be as bad as here," said Mike Ribeiro, who ranks as one of the better skaters on the Stars.

"It'll be bad for both teams. Both teams are going to be skating in quicksand most of this series. It could affect you."

Willie Mitchell considers himself the ice expert on the Canucks.

"It'll be a lake out there," he said. "It'll be terrible. It'll be slow and it'll be chippy.

"I pay a lot of attention to my skates. On good ice, you need a lot deeper hollow. On very soft ice, and, obviously, it'll be soft ice with the floor coming off just before our game, you need less hollow."

Mitchell doesn't deny that G.M. Place ice is an off track.

"When we practise in Burnaby, we really notice that the passes are so much crisper than G.M. Place. It's so-so. It's real snowy.

"It takes it's toll, especially on the groins. The legs get more tired, too."

If this series is as close as Game 1 - and all the regular season games which ended 2-1, 2-1, 2-1 and 2-1 with one game in overtime and another in a shootout - will the winner have anything left to go on and be successful in the next round?

The Canucks lost three players - Ryan Kesler, Matt Cooke and Alex Burrows - already this series, not counting Brent Sopel who missed Game 1 because of back spasms caused by bending over to pick up a cracker his daughter dropped on the floor. Sopel was in the lineup last night.

Even if bad ice favours the Canucks more than the Stars, Dallas coach Dave Tippett believes this will favour his team.

"The ice has been pretty good in Dallas this year. They've really worked at it with dehumidifiers. But we know about bad ice. There's just certain things you have to do.

"In the back half of the overtime periods in Game 1, you had to make sure you don't put yourself in position where you could get bad bounces. In the sixth and seventh periods, it was really tough that way."


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