Griffins forward Martin Frk on the importance of Saturday's win. Ted Kulfan
Grand Rapids – Martin Frk finally joined the power play party Saturday for the Grand Rapids Griffins.
The Griffins’ power play has been spectacular in the playoffs, having scored a power-play goal in 13 consecutive games – including three in Saturday’s 6-5 double overtime victory over Syracuse.
Funny thing is, Frk, the Griffins’ leading goal-scorer (27) and power-play leader (12 power play goals) during the regular season, hadn’t joined in the fun.
Frk had gone 11 consecutive playoff games – he missed the second-round series against Milwaukee because of injury - without a power-play goal.
Until scoring a power-play goal to open Saturday’s scoring, Frk’s fourth goal of the playoffs – but first with the man advantage.
“It was a long time,” Frk said. “I was real happy. It was on my second shift of the game, so it gave me a little boost, too.”
Frk, 23, went through a turbulent start to the regular season, when he was waived by the Red Wings out of training camp (Frk is out of minor league options) and claimed by the Carolina Hurricanes.
After two games with the Hurricanes, Frk (6-foot, 200-pounds) was back on the waiver wire and selected back by the Red Wings, who placed him back with Grand Rapids.
Once settled back in Grand Rapids, Frk had a fine season, with 27 goals and 23 assists (50 points) in 65 games, with a minus-4 plus-minus rating.
Frk doesn’t have blazing speed and will never be an elite skater, but his strength is a booming, right-hand shot that is particularly dangerous on the power play.
While the Griffins’ have excelled on the man-advantage this post-season, opponents have taken away Frk, shadowing a player on his side and making sure he has no clear lanes to shoot.
“It’s getting harder in the playoffs,” Frk said. “There’s always a guy with me. It’s hard to get the shots going. But you have to have to do something else, you need to take the guy with me somehwere else, so it opens a position for the guys on the other side.
“(But) I was real happy it (the goal) went in (Game 2).”
A restricted free agent on July 1, it’ll be interesting to see whether the Red Wings re-sign Frk, who could pursue opportunities elsewhere.
Holding a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Calder Cup Finals series, the Griffins flew Monday to Syracuse.
Game 3 of the AHL Finals series is Wednesday.
After the four-hour marathon Saturday (24 hours after a physical, emotional Game 1 victory), it was nice to physically recover.
“Grueling and physical, both teams were working hard,” said Griffins coach Todd Nelson of the first two games. “(It was good) to take a couple days off for sure.”
Several Griffins players said Saturday’s game was the longest they’ve ever played in – Ben Street finally scored at 7 minutes 2 seconds of double overtime – and were looking forward to a few days off between games.
“That’s the longest game I’ve ever played in,” said goaltender Jared Coreau, who stopped 50 shots. “You just have to get your fluids in, have a little bit of fruit. You just have to keep yourself going.
“It’s mental for everybody, especially the goalies.”
The Red Wings will hold their annual pro scouting meetings Wednesday through Friday in Syracuse, while watching the Griffins’ games.
General manager Ken Holland and his staff analyze players on the Red Wings and throughout the organization, as well as go over possible free agent and trade targets.
The front office will also finalize their 11-player protection list for the expansion draft, which must be turned in June 17.
Calder Cup Finals
Syracuse vs. Grand Rapids
All games at 7 p.m.
Game 1: Grand Rapids 3-2
Game 2: Grand Rapids 6-5 (2OT)
Wednesday: at Syracuse
Friday: at Syracuse
x-Saturday: at Syracuse
x-June 13: at Grand Rapids
x-June 14: at Grand Rapids