The NHL’s Stadium Series wraps up on Saturday, but the final outdoor game of the season will be the battle between the Ottawa Senators and the Vancouver Canucks in the 2014 Heritage Classic from Vancouver, Canada.
This annual game pits two Canadian teams against each other in a celebration of the country’s native sport, and this year’s outdoor battle will take place in BC Place Stadium, which holds an astounding 59,841 fans.
While the battle between the Canucks and the Senators isn’t steeped with tradition like many of the Heritage Classics of the past have been, fans in Vancouver should feel lucky that they were awarded such a prestigious game and enjoy the action regardless.
For all the fans that can’t wait to witness the outdoor action, here is all the vital viewing information for Sunday and a preview of what to expect.
Where: BC Place Stadium, Vancouver, Canada
When: Sunday, March 2, at 4 p.m. ET
Watch: NBC Sports Network
Live Stream: NHL GameCenter (subscription required)
Ottawa’s Player to Watch: Erik Karlsson, Defense
Team Sweden was able to win the silver medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics, but Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson was not happy to lose in the gold medal game against vaunted Team Canada.
Now he’s back with the Senators and looking for redemption.
Karlsson spoke with Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun about his return to the NHL:
It's always nice to come home again. It's been two amazing weeks. The travel was a little bit tough with the time difference but it's not something I think is going to be an issue. It was fun getting there and it's always easier to come back.
While Karlsson will never be mistaken for an elite defenseman, he has continued to blossom into one of the best-scoring threats from the blue line and a dangerous playmaker with his laser passes.
Despite his team’s second-place finish in the Olympics, Karlsson was one of the best players in the tournament and will look to carry that momentum throughout the second half of the season for the Senators.
If Vancouver can’t slow Karlsson at even strength and on the power play, the Canucks are in serious trouble.
Vancouver’s Player to Watch: Henrik Sedin, Center
The Canucks have one of the most dynamic offensive tandems in the league with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, but a nagging rib injury cost Henrik eight of the final 10 before the break and the entire Olympic tournament.
Vancouver was able to get back its captain and one of the best playmakers in the league on Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues, but it was clear that Sedin was not in the shape needed to be at his best once he hit the ice.
Henrik Sedin - "It was a huge win for us against, in my mind, the most complete team in the league." #Canucks— Sportsnet Pacific (@SNETPacific) February 27, 2014
The franchise needs Henrik at full strength as soon as possible.
The Canucks are fighting hard to ensure their team will make the postseason, and how the Sedin twins perform against the Senators in front of an international audience will go a long way in determining if Vancouver is a serious Stanley Cup contender.
Expect Henrik to be back in full force on Sunday.
As well as Karlsson will inevitably play for the Senators in BC Place Stadium, the international stage of the Heritage Classic will bring out the best in the Vancouver Canucks, and there is no way the home team will take the loss.
Who ya got?
Led by the Sedin twins as they continue to regain their chemistry together, the Canucks will use Sunday as the launching point for a strong finish to the season and a chance to enter the playoffs with momentum squarely on their side.
If the Senators do attempt to mount any offensive charges, Team Canada backup goaltender and Vancouver’s star netminder Roberto Luongo will be well rested and ready to perform at a high level.
With the home-ice advantage and the edge in almost every facet of the game, the Canucks should be able to pull out a convincing victory.
Predicted Final Score: Vancouver 4, Ottawa 2
*All stats via NHL.com.