Monday, October 29, 2012

Frkwatch Game Two: Fifteen for the Moose

This is a semi-frequent piece that I will run as much as I can attend Detroit Red Wings' prospect Martin Frk's QMJHL games. The views and opinions are those of myself and ONLY myself. I can't claim objectivity; my sole purpose is to report what I see myself.

Frk leaving his own end on the rush. Photo courtesy of PG Marsh.

The Halifax Mooseheads are on a roll. After losing their home opener, the team has won thirteen straight games, including  7-3 victory over the PEI Rocket at home Sunday night that included five goals scored in two minutes of play in the second period. The win was huge for the Moose, who took two points off of division rivals and increased their lead in the overall standings of the QMJHL. The team looked very impressive the entire game, the exception being some shaky goaltending in the second period and some lazy power play chances that turned into two shorthanded goals. Feel free to check out the statistics of Sunday night's game right here on the Q's website.

The win at home wasn't the only bright spot for the Moose. Forward Marty Frk had a big night. Frk set up the first goal and rifled home the last goal in the third period en route to a 1G, 1A, 4S, and 0 PIM performance. This brings Frk's season totals to three goals, eleven assists, and fourteen points in fourteen games. Most importantly beyond statistics, Frk looked like the player all Red Wings fans (and management) want him to be in the future.

On his first shift of the night, Frk was forechecking harder than I've seen him play all season. He took a hard wrist shot, followed it up with another, and linemate Brett Andrews buried his fourth of the season three minutes into the game to make it 1-0. Frk is looking more and more like a deadly threat on the forecheck and as usual he demonstrated an incredible sense of where to be when the puck is loose. He's passing the puck frequently to wide open teammates and is finally taking more shots on goal. He may sit 8th on the team in scoring but as soon as he starts shooting one-timers from the point like he did on his goal in the third period, he's going to rack up the points very quickly.

Frk digging for the puck. Photo courtesy of PG Marsh.

The most impressive thing about Frk during this game was his speed. Despite my initial concerns over his lack of interest backchecking or pushing himself to skate hard, Frk demonstrated some serious wheels on Sunday, especially pushing the action through centre ice. Frk is showing a lot more Filppula and less Franzen, for those of you who understand Red Wing comparisons. It's interesting to see him working on the different elements of play from game to game.

Extracurricular activities from Frk? Photo courtesy of PG Marsh.

Another big plus from this game was Frk mixed it up without drawing any dumb penalties. Currently, Frk has 24 PIMs, good for third on the team and second among forwards. He's definitely not one to shy away from giving and receiving hits, especially questionable ones, but he played with conviction and discipline on Sunday, which was refreshing and necessary as Halifax took a few unnecessary penalties.

The biggest downside to Frk's season thus far is the undisciplined penalties as well as his strange tendency to be on the ice for bad, preventable goals. He is the one of three Moosehead skaters with a plus/minus of even or below. While most of his teammates currently possess double digit plus/minus numbers, especially the top ten scorers, Frk is simply even. It's hard to pinpoint the reason why this is the case, although one could suggest it is his linemates being inexperienced, or perhaps the discussion could be traced back to his lack of backchecking, or even just "back luck". Either way, it's something I have no doubt he will be working on over the next couple of weeks as the Moose hit the road to defend their streak before returning to the Metro Centre on November 16th to play second place Rouyn-Noranda. By the time the Moose play the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles on November 23rd, the next edition of Frkwatch, we may just be talking about how Halifax are Canada's best junior team, and how Marty Frk of the Red Wings is lighting up the Q.

Nearly eight thousand in the Metro last night for the win. Photo courtesy of PG Marsh.

That concludes the third of many forthcoming Frkwatch entries. I'd love to read some feedback so please feel free to comment here on the blog or follow me on Twitter at @wizofozblog. Thanks for reading and as a Canadian icon used to say, keep your stick on the ice.