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Notes: Nemeth expected to play but DeKeyser and Erne questionable

Hirose enjoying seeing family and friends in hometown, looking forward to facing Gaudreau

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji / DetroitRedWings.com

CALGARY -- It appears that at least one of the Red Wings who missed practice Wednesday will be able to play against the Calgary Flames tonight.

Forward Adam Erne (upper body) and defensemen Danny DeKeyser (mid-body) and Patrik Nemeth (illness) all took part in the team's optional morning skate Thursday at Scotiabank Saddledome.

"I anticipate Nemeth going, Erne will be a game-time decision," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said.

Like Erne, DeKeyser's availability remains up in the air.

"I'm feeling a bit better," DeKeyser said. "I'm not like 100 percent right now, so we don't know. I'm gonna go talk to the training staff and come to a conclusion. But I don't know if I'll be in or not."

DeKeyser was a late scratch before Tuesday's game in Vancouver with an injury that happened during the morning skate.

He has been getting a lot of treatment since then.

"I've definitely been feeling better over the last couple of days," DeKeyser said. "It's just one of those things where I've just got to be confident that I can go out there and take hits and make plays without having something injure me."

Without DeKeyser, the team's penalty kill suffered as the Canucks went 3-for-5, including two goals within 20 seconds of starting the man-advantage.

"As a player you never want to watch a game," DeKeyser said. "You want to be out there playing and competing and obviously trying to help your teammates out. Tough night the other night but hopefully we can come back tonight and bounce back."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: "He's improved over the years and still has lots of room for improvement, and he knows that. What makes him special is he's willing to work at it."Blashill on Larkin | #DETvsCGY pic.twitter.com/RvP3OkclOc

GAUDREAU STILL LEADING FLAMES: You have to go back to the 2014-15 season to find the last time that Johnny Gaudreau, then 21, did not lead the Flames in points.

That year former Wing Jiri Hudler had 76 points to Gaudreau's 64.

Since then, Gaudreau, 5-foot-9, 165 pounds, has been a mainstay atop the Flames' points leaderboard and that remains the case right now.

Gaudreau, 26, has three goals and four assists in seven games, one point ahead of Matthew Tkachuk's six points (2-4-6).

"I think he's been pretty good since he got into the league," Blashill said. "Johnny was doubted as a younger player because he was small and he's just proved doubters wrong. He's an elite, elite offensive player, really an elite winning-type person and player.

"The first year I coached him in the World Championship team, it was great because I had an opportunity to show the rest of the team how hard you're supposed to track and how hard you're supposed to come back and play defense. I just think pretty much from day one he's been a real good player in this league."

Dylan Larkin played on Team USA with Gaudreau and appreciated his skill then and again every time he's faced him.

"He's so dynamic," Larkin said. "Really when you think you got him, you don't. He's so good at cutting back and controlling the puck and finding space. He's one guy that people are always like, 'Why don't you just hit him?' It's not that easy. He just spins off and makes space for himself and his linemates. He's got a pretty deceptive shot as well. He finds the little pocket that the goalie gives him and then usually hits it."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: "I think when we've been really good we've been a fast team and exciting to watch."Dylan ahead of #DETvsCGY. pic.twitter.com/81HYO9DjSk

Calgary native Taro Hirose, who grew up a Flames fan, listed Gaudreau as his current favorite NHL player on his bio on the Michigan State Spartans' website.

"Pretty cool, smaller guy who took the college route and was able to succeed," Hirose said. "Obviously, an unbelievable player at the NHL level. So I think for me, just getting in the league there's a lot to learn and I think from a guy like him I can learn a lot."

Hirose is listed as 5-foot-10, 162 pounds.

MORE ON HIROSE: There was a large contingent of Calgary media waiting to talk to Hirose after the morning skate.

Being in his hometown, Hirose said he was able to spend some time with his friends and family after Wednesday's practice.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Hometown kid (pt.2). #LGRW pic.twitter.com/09UpKA7Eq3

"I went back to my house for a little bit and got to relax and see my parents and then had dinner with a couple of my high school buddies, so it was really fun," he said.

Blashill said he appreciates the route that Hirose has taken, going from being an undrafted free agent to college star to now playing in the NHL.

"It says a lot about the fact guys get to the mountain top in different ways," Blashill said. "He was an undrafted free agent who went the Tier II route and made it to Michigan State and had a great career at Michigan State. We were excited to sign him with the chance that he could be a skilled-type player in the National Hockey League and over the course of the early part of his career, he's done a good job. I think he's still finding ways this year to be more effective offensively, but it should be a real good night for him for certain, to be able to come back home and play is awesome. Look forward to him hopefully having a great night."

While tonight will be Hirose's first time playing at the Saddledome as an NHL player, he has been there before.

"The whole behind the scenes thing is kind of new," Hirose said. "I definitely went to Flames games, bit Hitman fan growing up, too. Went on the ice a couple times for their skates. I've been around the rink but definitely a lot of new stuff for me."

While he admires Gaudreau now, he had a lot of favorite Flames players growing up.

"Definitely Jarome Iginla, Craig Conroy, those kind of guys looked up to a lot," Hirose said. "Iginla was one of those guys who did everything for the team, was all about the team. I really admired that about him."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: "I'm just trying to soak it all in."Taro gives his thoughts on playing against his childhood team in his hometown tonight. #DETvsCGY pic.twitter.com/m4oqDZi6kO

Hirose was asked about the many people who have helped him along his journey to the NHL.

"A lot of people running through my head but definitely my parents," Hirose said. "They've been there since day one, supporting me, letting me do my thing, so I think just being able to play here in front of them will be real special for me."

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