Detroit — Martin Frk knew pretty early in his hockey career he had a special gift.
That hard, blistering shot of his. Frk could tell early on it was different.
“I started realizing when I was about 12 years old,” Frk said. “The shot was harder than the older guys. It stayed with me.”
Frk showed off that shot Saturday, scoring twice in the 5-1 exhibition victory over Boston at Little Caesars Arena.
Playing on a line with Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin, Frk said after the morning skate he needed to make a statement.
Hours later, Frk delivered.
“Playing with the big guys, it’s good for me,” Frk said. “I have to go out there and take (advantage of) the chance. It’s unfortunate for the guys who are hurt but it gives me a chance to show what I can do.”
Frk’s third-period, power-play goal was a perfect example of his ability to overpower goaltenders with his shot, but also the improved accuracy.
That was one of the points of improvement the Red Wings needed to see from Frk, a 2012 second-round draft pick that was waived last September, claimed by Carolina, but waived by the Hurricanes before being picked up again by the Wings.
“He’s got a weapon, it’s a flat out weapon,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “When he hits the net one of two things happen. It’s either a great rebound chance or it’s in the net. It’s as good a shot as is out there.
“He did the things he needed to do to show he wants the job, and there’s a spot open here. He certainly made a good case for himself.”
With Andreas Athanasiou still without a contract, and Tyler Bertuzzi (wrist) now out of the lineup for a month, there are openings on the roster.
Frk has an opportunity to stick, if he continues to develop other part of his game.
And evolve his powerful shot.
“Sometimes I just have to go hit the net,” Frk said. “If I shoot hard enough, a rebound can come out, and it gives an opportunity for the other guys there. So definitely, just put it on the net and hopefully I will hit the net most of the time.
“Everything is quicker here, so maybe I cannot use the big slapshot here (all the time), maybe go use the wrist shot more. It all depends how the teams play and the pressure they put.
“They told me last year in GR (Grand Rapids) to just try to aim for the net and maybe take a little bit off from that hard shot, try to place it more.”
The first game at Little Caesars Arena wasn’t filled to capacity — preseason games never are in the NHL — but the place was filled enough that one attribute came through loud and clear.
This will be a loud rink.
“When I stand on the bench, you go to a new rink and sometimes they look cavernous, almost like a soccer stadium,” Blashill said. “But this thing feels like they’re (fans) right on top of you. I know that was a huge thing that (owner) Chris Ilitch and (general manager) Ken Holland wanted and it feels that way, it feels like the fans are on top of you.
“And the other thing I’d say is it’s going to be a really loud building. At the end, when the fans were celebrating, it was loud, so you put more people in the stands it’s going to be a real loud building.”
Red Wings defenseman Ryan Sproul says he'll try to change his game "a little bit" to be more defensive. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
Defenseman Ryan Sproul (knee) will be in the lineup today against Pittsburgh.
Sproul had knee surgery in April and was held back during training camp in Traverse City from any physical contact.
“I’ve been pretty close for a couple of weeks,” Sproul said. “In camp, there was no point to force it. I’d like to get into a couple of exhibition games.”
With a minor glut of defensemen, and the Red Wings facing salary cap issues (they’re above the cap), Sproul could be waived or traded before the regular season begins.
“There’s a lot of stuff, different decisions that are going to have to be made,” Sproul said. “That’s nothing that I can control. I’m going to go out there and play my game and hopefully make the team. That’s my goal for sure.”
Henrik Zetterberg (neck) and Justin Abdelkader (groin) skated on their own before the rest of the team in Sunday’s practice. Both are expected to get into game action this week.
… Blashill said today’s lineup will be more of a split squad of regulars and minor leaguers.
… Goaltender Jimmy Howard will get the start.
… 2017 first-round draft pick forward Michael Rasmussen will be in the lineup. Rasmussen and defenseman Dennis Cholowski have earned longer looks in training camp than anticipated.
“We’ve kept them a little longer, not for this season, but keeping them for experience and get as many looks as we possibly can,” Blashill said. “They’ve played very well. If we can get another look at them and they can get another taste of NHL hockey and get to play in Little Caesars Arena (that’s a positive).”
Penguins at Red Wings
Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. today
TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit/no radio
Outlook: The Red Wings beat the Boston Bruins 5-1 in first game at Little Caesars Arena on Saturday night.