There haven’t been many bright spots this season for the Detroit Red Wings. The team will miss the playoffs for the third straight season. However, there have been signs of life near the end of the season and Taro Hirose has played well since coming from Michigan State.
Taro Hirose Starting Strong
The Calgary native joined the Red Wings after completing his junior season with the Spartans. He totaled 15 goals and 35 assists for 50 points in 36 games. Those numbers made him the top point-getter in the NCAA and Hobey Baker Award finalist. Hirose was one of the better undrafted college free agents and the home state Wings were able to get him.
Hirose may only be 5-foot-10-inches tall and 160 pounds, but he’s adjusted to life quickly in the NHL. The 22-year-old has a goal and five assists for six points in eight games so far. He scored his first goal in Detroit’s 6-3 victory over the Boston Bruins on Sunday. The goal came 19 days after he made his debut.
Sometimes players coming from the minors or college hockey struggle out of the gate, but Hirose has jumped off to a fast start. He had assists in his first five games after coming from East Lansing.
A Sharp Skill-Set
Hirose is a cerebral player that has great hands and vision. He’s hard to contain and has a quick shot. Those items help him overcome his smaller frame and have made him key in the Red Wings’ solid late-season play.
The young forward also is a very good skater that can get out of tight spaces and get around defenders. He’s also shifty and can make a good pass with limited space. Those playmaking abilities are already serving him well.
The Red Wings have been eliminated from the playoffs for a while, but they’ve been playing better as of late. The line of Tyler Bertuzzi, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha have been one of the more productive lines late in the campaign.
Bertuzzi became the first player to get at least three straight points in four consecutive games since 2005. He’s the first player in franchise history to pull off the feat.
Detroit has won six straight games and seven of its last eight to give its fans some hope going into the off-season. They have picked up some wins against playoff teams like the Vegas Golden Knights, San Jose Sharks and Boston.
The Last Word
Detroit general manager Ken Holland told fans to use patience when setting expectations. The team is rebuilding and there may be a couple more years without post-season hockey. However, there is a crop of young forwards loaded with potential.
Players like Michael Rasmussen, Filip Zadina, Evgeny Svechnikov, Joe Veleno and this year’s picks could battle for roster spots. There have been flashes from Rasmussen with the big club and Zadina has played well in Grand Rapids.
The struggles will still happen for the next couple seasons, but young players like Hirose are giving the team and its fans something to look forward to until a playoff return.
DETROIT, MI – APRIL 20: Detroit Red Wings left wing Taro Hirose (53) hustles after the puck during the Detroit Red Wings game versus the New York Islanders on March 16, 2019, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)