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Notes: Cholowski excited to play in hometown

Vancouver's Hughes looking forward to playing against his friend, Larkin

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

VANCOUVER -- This moment has been a long time coming for Detroit Red Wings defenseman Dennis Cholowski.

Tuesday night will be the first time Cholowski plays in the arena where his family once had season tickets against his hometown team, the Vancouver Canucks.

"It feels good. There's going to be a lot of people here, it's going to be exciting for sure," Cholowski said after the morning skate at Rogers Arena. "Just being in the rink. I had season tickets, so seeing where I used to sit, having all the family here, it'll be cool to play the hometown team."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: "Having all the family here, it'll be cool to play my 'hometown' team," - Cholowski ahead of #DETvsVAN.

Cholowski's parents, Natalie and John, his older brother, Fred, aunt, uncle and several friends will be among 10-15 people cheering him on.

Last year, in Cholowski's rookie season, he was a healthy scratch in Vancouver as the Wings lost, 3-2, on Jan. 20.

Although his friends and family were disappointed, Cholowski displayed maturity beyond his years in the way he handled that situation and getting sent down to the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins a few weeks later.

"Big wake-up call, eye-opener, however you want to call it," Cholowski said last Friday of that game. "It was tough but I think it only made me better and stronger. I came back this year with a good attitude and a positive mindset."

Wings coach Jeff Blashill said that Cholowski is a better player than he was at the end of last season.

"I think that's a real tribute to him and the fact that he put tons of work in during the summer and he's stronger," Blashill said after Monday's practice. "And he's listened to things that he has to be better at. One of the biggest challenges to getting better is if you're not willing to understand that you have to get better. I think when guys realize that, they tend to grow at a much bigger rate.

"I think he understands the areas of the game defensively and kind of management of the game, knowing when to try and make a play and when to punt, is a huge part of managing your game. That comes with maturity lots of times. I think his game management and his defensive game still needs to improve but it is improving. It wasn't as good last game as he had been in the previous four but he's gonna get another chance (tonight) to go out and be real good."

Cholowski said everything he went through last season has helped his development.

"Having the experience of last year, playing in the NHL and AHL has helped me a lot," Cholowski said. "I feel a little older and a little more experienced this year.

"I'm just more calm, more relaxed, better in the D-zone, I'm winning more of my battles now. They can rely on me to put me on the ice in more situations now."

With his left-handed shot, Cholowski is the quarterback on the Wings' top power play with Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Tyler Bertuzzi and Taro Hirose.

"It's pretty cool, it's exciting, it's obviously a lot of talent with those four guys," Cholowski said. "To be on that is pretty exciting for me, and I just try to get them the puck when they need it and then contribute whatever way I can."

Mantha has both of Detroit's power-play goals this season among his six overall, which will make him a marked man with the man-advantage.

"They'll be watching video for sure," Cholowski said. "They'll be pushing up on him hard. I'm not sure if they will tonight or what we expect tonight. We'll read off of it when we get there and if he's open I'm going to get him the puck whenever I can."

In practice and during the morning skate, Cholowski has been paired with Alex Biega, who will be making his Detroit debut against his former team.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Good morning from Vancouver. 👋🏼(Yes, it���s still morning here).

"He's a great guy," Cholowski said. "It's going to be an exciting game to play with him. He played here and it's my hometown, so it should be a special game for us."

Tweet from @Canucks: Welcome back Bulldog!

SVECHNIKOV HEADS BACK TO GRIFFINS: After the morning skate, the Wings assigned forward Evgeny Svechnikov to the Griffins and removed center Frans Nielsen and defenseman Trevor Daley from injured reserve.

Defenseman Danny DeKeyser left the morning skate a little early so his status is in question but Daley said after Monday's practice that he was ready to play.

"We'll see where it goes from here," Blashill said. "I think (Daley's) getting to the point where he's healthy. Now he's only had I think one full practice, maybe two. I think when we looked back yesterday it was one, so we'd like to have him in as many as possible. We'll make the decisions on our lineup we think give us the best chance to win. Now part of that is how much you've been playing and how much you've been practicing."

Nielsen skated on a line with Valtteri Filppula and Adam Erne during the morning skate and on Monday.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: The #RedWings are saddened to learn of the loss of Danny Grant, who passed away at the age of 73. Grant played parts of four seasons in Detroit, scoring 50 goals in 1974-75 and serving two seasons as captain from 1975-77.

HUGHES VS THE WINGS: Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes is a familiar face in the state of Michigan, having starred at the University of Michigan and at the U.S. National Team Development Program.

Hughes was Vancouver's first-round pick, seventh overall, in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, chosen right after the Wings took forward Filip Zadina.

Hughes turned 20 Monday and will be playing against the Red Wings for the first time in his young career.

Tweet from @Canucks: No longer a teen, welcome to your 20s Huggy! 🎉

"It's always fun playing against your buddies, but at the same time, I'm not too worried about those guys, I just got to play my game tonight and hopefully play good," Hughes said.

One of the buddies Hughes is referring to is Larkin, who actually roomed with Hughes at the IIHF men's world championships while playing for Team USA a couple of years ago.

"He really took care of me there, we're pretty close after that," Hughes said. "He's such a good guy and such a real person, so it's always nice seeing him and he's really fun to watch. I don't need to tell you guys how good a player he is. Hopefully he doesn't play good tonight. But it's fun playing with guys like that."

Hughes rooming with Larkin was by design.

"I set that up," said Blashill, Team USA's head coach. "Dylan's a really good mentor type person. Quinn was the youngest. That was two years ago. I just thought it was good to have somebody like Dylan to see how he prepares every day and trains every day. Also, Dylan knows how to go out of his way to make people feel comfortable. I thought it was a good set-up that way."

Blashill expressed admiration for Hughes after the Wings practiced at Rogers Arena Monday.

"One, he's a really competitive person. He's a really explosive skater," Blashill said. "Those would be two things that stand out to me. He loves hockey, he wants to compete, he wants to be great. He's an elite skater. He can be really explosive, as explosive as anybody I've been around. We obviously have some with (Andreas) Athanasiou and with Larkin. It's a little different explosiveness. It's in tight areas. He's excellent on his edges.

"I'm a big fan of Quinn Hughes. I think he's done a really good job so far from what I've seen. I hope we make it real hard on him but I'm a big fan of Quinn Hughes."

Hughes scored his first career goal while on the power play in an 8-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 9.

Tweet from @Canucks: It is without a doubt that Quinn Hughes��� first goal of his NHL career was our @REMAXWesternCan Move of the Week.

In nine career NHL games, Hughes has one goal and five assists.

"I think experience is everything," Hughes said. "I've only played eight or nine games now and I'm just getting started. I'm just going to keep building my game from March or whatever it was last year. I think every game I'll keep getting better and keep making more plays, but I feel good right now."

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