The Sabres quickly learned Tuesday's exhibition game against the Adler Mannheim hosts could pose several problems.
The building is built in such a way that the fans -- even in the top sections -- are extremely close to the ice. Plus, the area behind the goal Mannheim protects twice is a standing-only section that is jammed with the team's most ardent supporters. They sing and clap throughout the game, which can be a disruptive force for an opposition unused to such tactics.
But, by far, the biggest challenge will be adapting to the bigger ice surface as the SAP Arena features an Olympic-sized sheet of ice.
After Sunday's practice, Tomas Vanek called it an ocean, referring to the extra room in the Corners of the offensive zone. Goalie Ryan Miller, meanwhile, was talking about how his angles were a bit off and how he had to fight the tendency to move too far side-to-side when tracking rushes. He says his visual clues are all off because of the wider ice surface.
Lindy Ruff knows his team will have some issues with the big ice, but he is grateful Tuesday's game is the only one that will be played on the Olympic-sized surface. The NHL Premiere games in Helsinki and Berlin will be played on NHL-sized ice sheets.
"You'll see a little bit of difference in the game (Tuesday)," Ruff said. "Outside the (faceoff) dots, you have the extra 20 feet that players can use, but inside the dots you are looking at the same game from the dots-in. IF you make sure you are playing on the inside, you usually play well. If you get caught on the outside and handling the puck, you can look pretty good -- but you generally don't get too much done. In our case, it is to try to play our (NHL) game on this ice."