LAS VEGAS—The sloppy ice at T-Mobile Arena for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final was a factor for both teams.

But, according to the Caps, it definitely favored a Golden Knights’ team that was used to dealing with it.

“You can’t get too fancy with this ice because it’s a little bouncy—and they know that,” Braden Holtby said after Washington’s 6-4 loss Monday night. “They feed on it for turnovers.”

Several times during stoppages, the arena’s ice crew came onto the playing surface to fill in deep ruts and make other repairs.

"At this time of year, every rink has struggles because the weather is tough,” Holtby added. “That’s one of things you can’t control [but] you can adjust to. Sometimes you just have to play simpler.”

And with the forecast calling for a high of 99 degrees on Wednesday, the ice might not be any better for Game 2.

The Caps’ approach, however, will need to be.

In addition to being more attentive to bouncing pucks, the Caps will need to be more judicious with their passes, particularly long ones. 

They’ll also want to avoid overhandling the puck and toe-drags. Getting shots off quicker could help, too.

Coach Barry Trotz said his players were, at times, a bit hardheaded when it came to adapting to the challenging conditions.

“You can’t expect the ice to be fantastic this time of year, especially in the markets that we are,” Trotz said. “It’s just part of the way you have to play. You have to adjust your game. You have to realize what you can do and what you can’t do.”


Trotz continued: “There were times early I thought we didn’t buy into that and other times I thought we bought into it, and we had success when we bought in.”

Indeed, the Caps must make some tweaks to their game if they hope to return home with a split. And coping with a difficult ice surface is high on that list.