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Reconfigured Surface Panned

January 21, 1999|CHRIS FOSTER

The reconfiguration of the playing surface at the Pond hasn't pleased everyone, especially the speedy skaters. Creating more room inside the blue lines has led to less creating with the puck, according to the Mighty Ducks' Paul Kariya.

"It's helped the power play because there is more room up top and more room behind the net to keep the puck in the zone," Kariya said. "But five on five, it has hurt. You could use your speed in the neutral zone before. Now you can't get much speed through the zone. It is the biggest adjustment our line has had to make."

Kariya's comments supported what his linemate Teemu Selanne said last week.

"For myself and the guys who really want to have speed in the middle zone, making that zone smaller, makes our job tougher," Selanne said.

In an effort to increase scoring, league officials moved the goal lines and blue lines out two feet, which shrunk the neutral zone. Although scoring is up slightly, Kariya said it has reduced chances, at least the flashy ones.

"You see a lot of dumping of the puck because there is room in the corners," Kariya said. "A, it's not as exciting to watch, and B, it doesn't produce a lot of scoring. They need to open up the neutral zone."

TONIGHT at Phoenix

6 p.m. PST

* Site--America West Arena.

* Radio--XTRA (690).

* Records--Ducks 17-19-8, Coyotes 24-11-6.

* Record vs. Phoenix--1-0-1.

* Update--Coach Craig Hartsburg said Wednesday morning that goalie Guy Hebert was "not up to par." Later, the Ducks announced they had recalled Patrick Lalime from Kansas City, but team officials said that it was merely a coincidence. Later, still, the truth came out. Hebert had flu, a stomach ailment to be specific, although Duck officials would not go that far. Hebert consulted a doctor after Monday night's game about problems he was having retaining food. Dominic Roussel probably will start again tonight. Phoenix's Rick Tocchet scored the 399th goal of his career in the victory over St. Louis on Tuesday.

* Tickets--(714) 704-2500.

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