Flyers vs. Penguins: So, the ice at Consol sucks

Justin K. Aller

The Flyers play in Pittsburgh tomorrow night. Could bad ice impact the game?

Maybe this is good news for the Flyers ahead of tomorrow's game in Pittsburgh: Apparently, the ice at Consol Energy Center is awful, and some believe it could hurt the Penguins going forward.

Via our friends at Pensburgh, who hypothesize that bad ice at home is limiting their team.

Factor in the Penguins 8-2-0 road record and the offensive outbursts they've had away from the friendly confines of Consol Energy Center and CoC [another Pens' blog] speculated that the quality of the ice might be a detraction for the Pens, who's speed and skill can be slightly negated by less than ideal conditions.

What do the numbers say? The Penguins are 3-3-0 at home so far this season and 8-2-0 on the road, which stands out. They're scoring an average of three goals per game on home ice and 3.3 per game on the road. Their power play is roughly the same regardless of venue, converting at 26.1 percent at home and 28.2 percent on the road.

It makes sense that bad ice would limit a fast team that relies on speed and crisp passing. But much like the Penguins today, the Capitals of three years ago were a high-flying team that played at least half of their games on bad ice, and they learned to use it to their advantage.

In 2008-09, as Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green, Alex Semin and Nicklas Backstrom were just beginning to light up the NHL, the Caps went 29-9-3 at Verizon Center. The next year, they were a ridiculously more impressive 30-5-6 at home. In 2010-11 Washington compiled a 25-8-8 record at home, and even two years ago as they continued to dismantle the speedy offensive spectacle they once were, they went 26-11-4 at home.

The Flyers are ... well, a lot slower than they used to be. They've never been as speedy as say, the Penguins or those Capitals teams, so you'd think that they'd be better off playing on crappy ice against the Flyers on Wednesday night. That's what logic says, and that's what Penguins fans are insinuating in complaining about low ice quality at Consol. I guess we'll wait and see if it impacts the game or gives one team an edge.

***

In any event, it seems pretty crazy that a building that doesn't host an NBA franchise has worse ice than one that does. I think the Flyers are a bit spoiled when it comes to ice quality at WFC, which as far as I can remember has never been a consistent issue. I've never skated at the WFC, but even from eyeballing it in never appears to be a problem.

It's understandable that Verizon Center has crap ice: the Caps share the building with the NBA's Wizards, Georgetown basketball and any number of concerts and other events. The arena is empty just five days in February, which is comparable to the busy schedule of the Wells Fargo Center. The same can be said for the arena floor at Madison Square Garden in New York, which is both super busy and positioned six floors above the heat of a major transit hub.

Consol has other events, but nowhere near the same number of events as some of these other buildings. Guess it's just another thing we can hold over the City of Pittsburgh: Our 17-year-old arena has better ice than your three-year-old building.

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