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Players chilly toward ice condition

To say Lightning players were unhappy with the St. Pete Times Forum ice during Thursday's game against the Sharks is an understatement.

Center Vinny Lecavalier said it was the worst he could remember. He said the puck would not lay flat and literally stopped during one charge to the net.

"I've never seen anything like it," Lecavalier said. "The puck was bouncing around like a tennis ball."

Left wing Fredrik Modin said, "I don't want to dis the guys working on it because they're working hard to get it done, but it's been bad the whole season. For what reasons I don't know."

Tim Friedenberger, director of facility operations at the Times Forum, has a whole list: warm outside temperatures, more people in the building (which means the doors are open more often) and, "the killer," humidity.

Friedenberger said when humidity is high, as it has been, it condenses on the ice and freezes. Add that to the snow the players kick up and the ice slows and becomes uneven.

Friedenberger said the building is kept between 58 and 62 degrees, but four dehumidifiers lower the humidity by only 15 percent.

"The answer is a nice cool blast from the north with some cool dry air," he said. "That helps us out immensely."

"It's a concern," coach John Tortorella said. "I know the people in the building are working around the clock, but we're in Florida. The building people are terrific, but this year it's been a struggle."

Friedenberger sympathizes.

"When we see the puck bouncing around like that, it bums us out too," he said.

EARNING A SPOT?: With the team having an open roster spot and struggling a bit five-on-five, calling up Shane Willis is not out of the question. The right wing has played well for AHL Hershey with four goals and seven points in seven games. He also has an even plus-minus.

"Shane has made a real commitment to two-way play," Tampa Bay general manager Jay Feaster said. "He has responded."

"There's never a guarantee," Willis said. "I just have to keep playing well and make it easy for them to say, "We want Shane to come up.' "

ODDS AND ENDS: Carolina center Kevyn Adams played his 300th game.

_ DAMIAN CRISTODERO

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