LOS ANGELES --
Los Angeles in June is not exactly what comes to mind when thinking of crisp ice surfaces and fall-like weather conditions. But defenseman Willie Mitchell
sounded giddy after the morning skate at Staples Center on a mild, gray Monday.
"I don't want to say it, but it felt like the [Edmonton] Oilers ice in the mid-'90s out there," Mitchell said. "It felt great. We could have a decent hockey game on our hands -- not too humid. It's cold out there, the ice is nice. You can actually make passes.
"You don't say that about Staples ice too often. It tells you how bad the ice was out in New Jersey. It felt really nice out there and guys were quite excited about it, and I'm sure the Devils will be as well. I think you'll probably get much more up-tempo hockey game because of that."
Both the Kings and Devils are looking forward to a smoother surface for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final after they slugged through a humid Game 1 at the Prudential Center. Several players complained about the poor ice causing bouncing pucks as both teams had to play more conservatively.
It's a common issue with hockey in June, no matter the city or venue. Mother Nature seemed to be in compliance in L.A. on Monday as it was expected to be 69 degrees with 71 percent humidity.
A full building will affect the ice slightly, but the Kings players said a Staples surface that isn't known for smoothness felt good.
"It was a lot better -- which is funny considering Staples ice," captain Dustin Brown
said. "We complain about Staples ice all year. Granted, it's a lot better when it's an empty building … I think it will be a quicker game because of the ice."
Said Jarret Stoll
, "I think the temperature in the building is a difference, for sure. I noticed it during the skate this morning. We expect to be sharp. We expect to be crisp, and we'll go for there."
Home ice hasn't really been kind to the Kings. Their only two losses of the Stanley Cup Playoffs have come at Staples. They have outscored opponents 34-15 on the road and 11-9 at home. They have one power-play goal at home against five on the road.
Those five shorthanded goals by L.A.? All came on the road.
The Kings will otherwise look to feed off their home crowd. Although cavernous, Staples Center is known as one of the louder arenas come playoff time, and the adrenaline level can be elevated for players.
"You got to harness it," Mitchell said. "I think you can't play outside yourself. Just do what we do and do it hard, and kind of find that fine line where you don't get overly excited and use it to motivate you."