Ericsson gets second chance at outdoor game
Red Wings defenseman back from injury, also missed 2014 Winter Classicby Paul Harris / NHL.com Correspondant
DETROIT -- Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson missed playing in the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic because he was injured.
The Red Wings played the Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., before a NHL-record crowd of 105,491 on Jan. 1, 2014 and lost 3-2 in a shootout.
But it appears Ericsson will be in the lineup when Detroit faces the Colorado Avalanche in a Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game at Denver's Coors Field on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports 2).
Ericsson has missed the past six games because of a lower-body injury, but said he is ready to return to the lineup and looking forward to playing outdoors Saturday.
"Of course, it's a fun event," Ericsson said. "I was really bummed that I missed the last one, a little fluke injury just over a week before the last outdoor game. I feel good now and hopefully I'll be able to play Saturday."
Red Wings rookie forward Dylan Larkin was among those in attendance at Michigan Stadium on New Year's Day 2014, when he was 17.
"It was a cold day," Larkin said. "It was pretty cool though, a lot of people in one area watching a hockey game. Great venue, one of the best stadiums, that was pretty special, too."
Video: COL@DET: Ericsson scores through Varlamov's five-hole
He also has played in an outdoor game.
"I played in one last year with Michigan, but it was in Chicago and there wasn't much of a crowd," Larkin said. "I think it's going to be awesome to look out and see all the fans. It's going to be pretty special.
"It'll just be cool to have tons of fans and have it be between great rivals like Colorado and Detroit."
Defenseman Niklas Kronwall also is eagerly anticipating the game.
"It's going to be fun, no doubt," he said. "It's one of those games that you circle early on, even before the season starts. It's going to be a lot of fun. Hopefully the ice holds up and we can enjoy it."
Hanging in the balance are an important two points. The Red Wings hold the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
"I think moments like this within the season, when you get an opportunity to play in an unbelievable setting and obviously it's a big deal, it's awesome," Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. "Obviously there's two big points there, but we're going to enjoy it. We'll have our practice out there and we'll enjoy the game."
This will be Detroit's third outdoor game. The Red Wings defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 6-4 in the 2009 NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field.