GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
- Grand Rapids Griffins left wing Valtteri Filppula
(VAHL-tuhr-ee FIHL-poo-luh) has been named the CCM Vector/American Hockey League Player of the Week for the period ending Nov. 20, the league announced on Monday. Filppula, a 21-year-old native of Vantaa, Finland, enjoyed a breakout week to guide the Griffins to four come-from-behind wins in a six-day span. He tallied five goals, six assists, 11 points and a plus-nine rating, contributing at least one goal and two points in all four contests.
Detroit's third choice in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, Filppula led the Griffins' comeback from a 4-2 third-period deficit on Tuesday by scoring a goal, assisting on Bryan Helmer's marker to force overtime, and notching the decisive shootout goal in a 5-4 win over Manitoba.
During the third periods on both Friday and Saturday against Cleveland, he registered three points to tie the franchise record for a single period. The Griffins scored the final four goals each night, riding Filppula's two-goal, one-assist performance to a 6-3 win on Friday, and his one-goal, two-assist effort to a 5-3 road victory on Saturday.
Filppula finished off the week by figuring in each goal during Sunday's 3-1 win at Toronto. After tallying assists in each of the first two periods and scoring the capper in the third, he ranks third on the Griffins and is tied for 20th in the AHL with 18 points (9-9-18) during his first season in North America.
Thanks in large part to Filppula, the Griffins are off to the best start in their 10-year history, with an unprecedented 13 wins (13-3-0-1) and 27 points through 17 games. They own a five-point lead over Manitoba in the North Division race, and their 0.794 winning percentage leads the Western Conference and places second overall in the AHL.
Filppula becomes the second Griffin to be named AHL Player of the Week this season, following Jiri Hudler
's selection on Oct. 17. In recognition of his achievement, Filppula will receive an etched crystal award prior to an upcoming Griffins home game.