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Notes: Red Wings hold first official practice at Little Caesars Arena

Rasmussen and Cholowski excited for first NHL exhibition game in Boston

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

DETROIT - The Red Wings held their first official practice at the BELFOR Training Center at Little Caesars Arena Tuesday.

Only the players traveling to Boston for the first exhibition game against the Bruins were on the ice.

"It's good, pretty cool having our practice rink next to the locker room, just being around here, having everything here is pretty cool," Dylan Larkin said. "It's a special place. For sure. Still some things being finished up but it's amazing. We're pretty lucky to have this."

Players and coaches admitted they're still finding their way around a much bigger arena than Joe Louis Arena was but they are appreciating all the attention to detail.

"Everything is together," goaltender Petr Mrazek said. "You have the big arena and the practice facility next to each other, big fitness room where all the trainers are. It's something different from Joe Louis but very nice."

Coach Jeff Blashill said he and his assistants are still putting their offices together but they are all excited about being in the building finally.

"I thought getting on the ice was obviously very exciting. Just to be here," Blashill said. "We're working through getting moved into our room, so there's things that we got to do as a staff, it's more behind the scenes as a coaching staff and equipment managers and trainers, we still got to get comfortable in our space and whatnot. But it's great to be in the building."

Although there will be many events at Little Caesars Arena like Pistons games and concerts, the Wings are glad they don't have to dress and drive to University Liggett in Grosse Pointe or the Taylor Sportsplex for practice.

"It's awesome," Blashill said. "That was a huge thing that I think the Ilitch family made sure of, to have the practice rink right there, just to eliminate so much wear and tear, especially with a building like this, which will be booked constantly, whether it's the Pistons or shows, and things like that, for us to have our practice facility right here is excellent."

Many of the players got a chance to skate at the new place before training camp but not everyone.

"Oh, my gosh. This place is beautiful," Dennis Cholowski said. "This is my first time seeing it and the dressing room is unbelievable. I'm just blown away by the whole arena."

LARKIN AND MANTHA: Since the start of training camp, Blashill has had Larkin centering a line with Anthony Mantha and Justin Abdelkader.

Although Abdelkader is not traveling to Boston, Larkin and Mantha will be skating together with PA Parenteau.

"I hope it can be a real good offensive line," Blashill said. "Larks has the ability to be a real good two-way center. But I hope it can be a real good offensive line. We'll see if we can create some chemistry, or if they can create some chemistry. They're two guys that have elite ability. Hopefully they can play well off each other."

Larkin said things have gone well so far.

"Very good," Larkin said. "He's a sniper, so I'm just trying to find him. He can move, too. We can work with each other and just try to get him the puck."

KIDS GET FIRST GAME: Although it's only the preseason, playing in an NHL game for the first time is always exciting.

"It's exciting," said Michael Rasmussen, the Wings' first-round pick in the 2017 draft.

"Good morning skate there. Like I said, I'm just excited. It's something I've been working for for a while so it's good."

Cholowski, the Wings' first-round pick in the 2016 draft, was in college last year at St. Cloud so he will also be skating in his first NHL game.

"It's pretty cool," Cholowski said. "Just trying to enjoy the whole experience, playing in an NHL rink with NHL fans. It'll be fun."

Cholowski will be paired with Dylan McIlrath, who does have NHL experience.

"Bigger guy so hopefully I can roam around a little bit," Cholowski said. "Being up in rushes and trying to create offense."

Rasmussen said during training camp, he got to see the pace, strength and consistency you have to have every day to play in the NHL.

That experience and the one he had at Development Camp in July has helped.

"Every day I come to the rink and I work hard," Rasmussen said. "I try to get better, whether that's Development Camp or here, I worked real hard in the summer. So yeah, I do think my game has improved. I think I'm taking steps in the right direction."

Cholowski gained praise during camp for the improvement he has made in a little over a year's time since he was drafted.

He showed off some offensive promise on a pass that led to Corey Elkins' goal in the Red-White Game.

"It definitely gives you confidence. Something that every player wants to have is a lot of confidence," Cholowski said. "Plays like that one, whether you mean to make them or don't mean to make them, when they happen it gives you a lot of confidence."

AT BOSTON: Blashill said Mrazek and Jared Coreau would split goaltending duties at Boston Tuesday night.

In addition to Larkin, Mantha, Parenteau and Rasmussen, the forwards going are Riley Sheahan, Dominic Turgeon, Luke Witkowski, Zach Nastasiuk, Luke Glendening, Martin Frk, Dominik Shine, Turner Elson and Tyler Bertuzzi.

Joining Cholowski and McIlrath on the blue like are Nick Jensen, Vili Saarijarvi, Brian Lashoff, Libor Sulak and Pat McCarron.

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