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Notes: Cholowski returns to Wings

With Green out, young defenseman will take his spot on the power play

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

ST. PAUL -- When the Red Wings lost defenseman Mike Green to an upper-body injury in the second period in Colorado, they had a decision to make.

Once it was determined that Green would miss at least a couple of weeks, the Wings opted to call up Dennis Cholowski from the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit's AHL affiliate.

"I think he's grown," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said after the morning skate at Xcel Energy Center. "He's continued to work on the things he's gotta get better at. He's been pretty good with moving the puck. We want to make sure we can get the puck out of our end and we need a power-play guy, so we called him up."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Morning skate underway at the Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota.#RedWings, Wild: 8pm. #LGRW

Although defenseman Jonathan Ericsson is healthy enough to play, he has not generally been used to quarterback the power play.

Cholowski, 21, had two goals and six assists in 29 games with the Wings earlier this season. That includes five points (1-4-5) on the power play.

"At the end of the day, a guy on the power play, that's gonna quarterback your power play can take control, make plays, is not afraid to make a mistake," Blashill said. "Not be careless but not be afraid to make a mistake and attack the game a little bit. I would just use (Boston's) Torey Krug as an example for everybody in the league. He does a really good job with it.

"When I watch (Vancouver's) Quinn Hughes right now, he's doing a real good job of attack. He's taking the shot when he should take the shot. He's making a play when he should make the play. That's what a guy with confidence does. I think hopefully, Chilly's done a good job of building that confidence up down there, and he can come up and do the same here."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Blashill on the Cholowski call-up & tonight's game in Minnesota.#DETvsMIN | #LGRW

Since going to Grand Rapids on Dec. 11, Cholowski has two goals and three assists in 17 games.

I feel over the last couple of weeks would be probably the best I've played in a while as far as the D zone goes," Cholowski said. "I just have to continue that."

The Wings have stressed to Cholowski on several occasions that they want him to be assertive when he's on the ice.

"And that's gonna change slowly. It's not gonna change overnight," Blashill said. "It's just making sure he's assertive with the puck, making sure he's assertive without the puck and in plays, both on the track and in gapping and in the D zone. That'll be his focus defensively but be assertive with the puck. Make a bunch of plays. He's made plays at the NHL level at different times over his tenure, and we need him to keep making plays."

Although the talent level is not exactly the same at the AHL level, it afforded Cholowski an opportunity to work on that part of his game.

"The biggest one was the D zone when I went down first," Cholowski said. "Make sure I'm ending plays and being hard to play against. Let the offense take over after that."

Known more for his offense, Cholowski had two goals in his last four games with the Griffins.

"It's good, especially over the last few games," Cholowski said. "I think I've started ramping it back up a little more, and I feel good at both ends of the ice.

"It was really just focusing on the D zone at first and making sure I end the play so I can go on offense. You have to end the play and be aggressive in the D zone in order to get the puck to go on offense. I think it kind of goes hand in hand."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: "It's always exciting to be back."Dennis Cholowski is in Minnesota after being called up from Grand Rapids this morning. | #DETvsMIN

Although he's been busy with the AHL season, Cholowski has kept tabs on the Wings and knows what they have been going through.

"Of course I watch most every game," Cholowski said. "I think the guys are working hard, and you just have to keep going. Things might not be going the way you want them to but you just have to keep working hard, and keep developing."

LOOKING AT THE WILD: The Minnesota Wild are fighting to remain in the playoff picture as they sit last in the Central Division and sixth in the Western Conference wild-card race at 22-21-6 (50 points).

"First of all, they've got a good D corps," Blashill said. "I got a chance to coach (Ryan) Suter in the world championships and he's a really good D man, a really good person, a good winner. But the other guys, (Jonas) Brodin and (Matt) Dumba and (Jared) Spurgeon, those guys are all real good D. So it's a real hard team at times to create against.

"They've got a big enough team up front. Certainly with (Mikko) Koivu back, it's a big, strong group that can kind of grind you down low as well. We did a good job in this building last year. We gotta make sure we have a similar road map to success, and we're playing in their end as much as we can."

Suter has 35 points (7-28-35), second to Eric Steal's 36 points (16-20-36) on the Wild. Zach Parise is not far behind with 31 points (19-12-31).

The Wings will have to remain disciplined as the Wild have the 13th ranked power play at 20.5 percent.

But the Wild have been especially hot with the man-advantage of late, recording five power-play goals in the last two games and 10 in their last nine games.

Parise has a current power-play goal streak of four games, the longest active streak in the league and the second longest in team history.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Happy Birthday, Robby! 🎉

BREAK TIME: Both the Wings and Wild will go on their extended All-Star/bye break after tonight's game.

While Tyler Bertuzzi is heading to St. Louis to represent the Wings in the All-Star Game, many of the players are headed to warmer climes.

"I'm going to go to Cabo with a few of the guys," defenseman Madison Bowey said Tuesday. "That's our plan, get the mind off things a little bit. It'll be nice to kind of have that reset for a little while for sure."

While Blashill doesn't love having the two breaks back-to-back, at least they will not have to face a team that's been playing once they return.

"It's a little bit different than it used to be, in a sense that you used to have to come back and play a team that wasn't on break, and that was a huge disadvantage," Blashill said. "The NHL's done a good job of at least pairing the break groups together, and you come back and you play a team that's in the same boat.

"You get to practice a little bit earlier. It used to be four and now it's two, so you get in the city a little bit earlier, you get to practice a little bit earlier. Those are all positives. The guys are gonna go and do their deal and now you hope, you make sure with them that they're staying on top in terms of shape."

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