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It was a struggle, but Big E glad he played

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Jonathan Ericsson celebrates Tomas Tatar's first-period goal in Saturday's 5-3 win in the Stadium Series game against the Avalanche. (Photo by Getty Images)

DALLAS Jonathan Ericsson was so pumped for his first outdoor game.

It’s just that everything surrounding last Saturday’s Stadium Series outdoor game at Coors Field was beyond normal for the Red Wings’ defenseman, who was returning from a lower-body injury that kept him out of the previous six games.

“It was a really cool experience,” Ericsson said, “although the preparation for me wasn’t great with everything in play with the altitude, the outdoor game, I hadn’t played in two weeks, and we hadn’t skated in three days before that.”

The last good practice the Wings had was last Wednesday. They traveled to Denver on Thursday and had a casual skate for about 30 minutes in bad ice conditions with temperatures reaching the mid-60s on the outdoor rink Friday afternoon.

Because of concerns with the ice for Saturday’s game, neither the Wings nor the Avalanche had a morning skate. Not conducive for a player trying to work his way back from an injury.

“I tried not to think about it too much before the game but I got to be honest – I didn’t feel great out there but I’m glad that I was part of the game and that we won,” Ericsson said.

The 6-foot-4, 22-pound defenseman, who is asthmatic, encountered some breathing difficulties in the thin Colorado air.

“The altitude made a difference, I could really tell the difference coming back from a shift,” Ericsson said. “Coming back to the bench, just a regular shift sometimes, it felt like I wasn’t getting enough oxygen. You had to take a really deep breath but even those you were like, ‘Why isn’t it all coming back?’ Do you have asthma? That’s kind of what it feels like.”

Even with the issues with the altitude, Ericsson was a plus-2 with 15:09 of ice time in the Red Wings’ 5-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche in the outdoor game.

Playing in his third outdoor game, defenseman Mike Green said the altitude, coupled by the gusting winds, caused challenges for players.

“Carrying the puck up the ice, sometimes it was harder one way or the other depending on which way the wind was blowing,” Green said. “Other than that it was good. There wasn’t any variables that changed the flow of the game really.”

Saturday’s spectacular was Luke Glendening’s sixth outdoor game. He played in three games with the University of Michigan and one with the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Denver game was his second with the Wings but his first that was interrupted by fake snow.

“Yeah, that was pretty funny,” Glendening said, of the cotton sheets that swirled around the ballpark in the third period.

“No snow in 65-degree weather, but you’ve got cotton flying around everywhere,” he said. “It was pretty comical.”

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