They tell him how they'd love to be in his size range of 6-foot-5, 215 pounds. Falk has a standard retort. He reminds them how lucky they are to be able to skate like the wind and work the puck as though it's on a string.
"They think the skating comes so easy to tall guys," said Falk, a second-year pro. "I tell them it's a lot of work to develop what I have so far."
This season, Falk and the Aeros defense are growing into their games quite nicely. The parallel development is no coincidence.
Falk, 21, is one of the stay-at-home rocks on a team that is fifth in the AHL with a goals-against of 2.62. That stinginess is one of the reasons the Aeros remain in a battle for a playoff spot in the West Division.
"We are very strong defensively. We take a lot of pride in that," Falk said. "The last couple months, the D-corps has buckled down. I try to be that anchor back there, where they have that confidence to play this guy any time, anywhere. I want to be reliable."
While Falk has now turned his height into a hockey edge, it's also a reason why he pondered turning away from the sport. He was a pitcher in his younger days, one with a lively arm who was good enough to get invited to a Minnesota Twins showcase camp.
"For the physical traits, the size, I always had. When I hit my growth spurt, from 13-16, the skills kind of disappeared for a while," Falk said. "Once I moved on to the next level, you realize, 'OK, now I'm big, I have to figure everything out again.' Last year, I'd be in and out of the lineup at times, or wouldn't play in the third period. Now, I can be a go-to guy out there."
The scary part for Houston's opponents is that Falk may be ready to combine a power forward's size with a slippery playmaker's moves. In a contest against Peoria on Feb. 3, he toe-dragged around a Riverman defender at the top of the right point, cut into the slot and snapped a forehand 5-hole for just his second score of the season.
"Obviously, it will put a lot more confidence in me with the puck," he said. "But not to take it too far."
Abdelkader adjusts -- Grand Rapids forward Justin Abdelkader splashed into the NHL last season with a lot of hype.
It's a good thing he's one of those who didn't get caught up in it. That made his demotion from the Red Wings to the Griffins last month a lot easier to handle.
Abdelkader, one of the up-and-comers in the Detroit system, was deemed in need of a little more polishing after contributing just 3 goals and 3 assists in 50 games for Detroit.
"When I found out, in a way, the writing was on the wall. I'm on a two-way contract. I didn't have to clear waivers," said Abdelkader, 22. "I didn't necessarily think I was there for good. I figured eventually I'd come down to Grand Rapids. Here I am."
That's the type of announcement Abdelkader made when he joined the Red Wings for the playoffs last season, only he spoke loudest with actions instead of words. After earning honors on the AHL's all-rookie team (24-28 for Grand Rapids) and leading the Griffins with 6 goals in 10 playoff games, Abdelkader grabbed the spotlight in the star-laden Stanley Cup Final between Detroit and Pittsburgh.
He became the first player in history to score his first two NHL goals in Games 1 and 2 of the Finals, after also becoming the first player since current Griffins assistant coach Jim Paek (1991, Pittsburgh) to score his first NHL goal in that round.
"It almost seems like just yesterday," he said. "I think playing in Grand Rapids last year prepared me for that opportunity. I got the taste of it (in the Final). It makes me want to work harder and chip in as much as I can."
Abdelkader's waning offensive contributions apparently weren't a major concern given his depth-player role. But he said with his potential contributions on the penalty kill, the Red Wings told him to work on his draw control in Grand Rapids.
"It's just day-in and day-out getting better," he said. "It's obviously frustrating going down. But there're a lot of good guys down here, guys who will eventually be up in Detroit full time. Detroit likes bringing their players along slowly, putting them in the minors until they are over-ripe and ready to go. You have to understand that."
Rooting interest -- Adirondack Phantoms forward Rob Bellamy's rooting interest for the U.S. women's hockey team in the upcoming Olympics runs much deeper than mere national pride.
Bellamy's younger sister, Kacey, is a defenseman on the squad.
"I'm going to do as much as I can to see her games on TV," Rob said. "It's awesome to be a part of it. It's good to see her keep developing as a player. I think she's going to do just fine. I talk about her a lot. I let the guys know she's going to be in the Olympics."
Bellamy, from Westfield, Mass., said he sensed there'd be something different about his sister after they battled as younger players.
"When we were younger, we played a lot of street hockey. It was pretty competitive. A couple times, she shut me down," he said. "You could tell she was one of the more elite players (as she got older). I could tell she could see the ice well. She just got better and better. Now, this is the highest step for her."
"We are very strong defensively. We take a lot of pride in that. The last couple months, the D-corps has buckled down. I try to be that anchor back there, where they have that confidence to play this guy any time, anywhere. I want to be reliable." -- Justin Falk