Cholowski, Hirose reflect on making opening-night roster
Dennis Cholowski, left: “The trust factor, that was the biggest thing,” he says. Taro Hirose: “I was able to show what I could do.”
Dennis Cholowski and Taro Hirose are slated to be in the lineup when the Red Wings travel to Nashville to open their 2019-20 season against the Predators on Saturday night.
Cholowski, 21 and Detroit’s first-round pick in 2016, was expected to be returned to Grand Rapids of the AHL after camp last season but surprisingly made the team. However, after disappointing play, he was demoted to the AHL affiliate a little past the midway point of the campaign.
But the defenseman demonstrated in this year’s training camp and preseason games that he has improved in the areas that led to his demotion.
"I think he did a good job of being good at what he's good at," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said on the Red Wings’ website. "And that's moving the puck, good on the power play – we'd prefer a left shot on that unit, if possible – and he had a good number of opportunities to be with that unit and he did a good job.
“I also think the things that we've talked about him getting better at, No. 1, recognizing danger and not giving up lots of chances, I think he's done a good job of that.”
Cholowski feels good about having earned Blashill’s confidence.
"The trust factor, that was the biggest thing," Cholowski said after Monday's practice at the BELFOR Training Center. "Being able to put me out in different situations, whether it be the last few minutes of a game, or PK, being able to trust me to be physical and be able to get the puck away from the front of my net. I thought I did a pretty good job of that in preseason, and here I am."
Hirose, 23, continued to show the hockey sense and creativity that he did late in 2018-19 when he was signed as a free agent after his junior season at Michigan State. And he’s addressing his weaknesses.
"I think it went pretty well. I was able to show what I could do," the left wing said of preseason and the prospect tournament. "There's obviously some areas in my defensive game that I want to work on. We saw that in the preseason. But that's why it's there, to sort of get into the flow of things and build chemistry with your linemates and things like that. Overall good, but definitely lots to work on."
Blashill said there’s one thing that Hirose has definitely improved over the summer.
"His shot for sure," Blashill said. "It hasn't resulted in goals, but it's a way harder shot than it was and I know he worked hard at it this summer. It's a way harder shot for sure, without a shadow of a doubt. So he's got more of a shot threat.”
… The Red Wings have placed center Chase Pearson on non-roster injured reserved and assigned defenseman Jared McIsaac to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Halifax Mooseheads to get down to the NHL roster limit of 23.
… Veteran defenseman Jonathan Ericsson has been ruled out of the start of the regular season because of a soft-tissue issue.