by Lindsay Kramer || NHL.com
Lindsay Kramer, the AHL correspondent for NHL.com, profiles an up-and-coming player each Monday during the season, and his AHL notebook appears each Thursday on NHL.com.
Forward Joey Crabb had a golden cushion to ease his landing when Atlanta sent him to the AHL’s Chicago Wolves at the end of last month.
Consistent power-play minutes awaited him for the first time in his three-year career with the Wolves. Chicago coach Don Granato slapped an ‘A’ on him, too. Then there were the glorious bus rides.
“I’d almost rather bus than go through security in the airport, and then go to the airport and fly,” Crabb said.
This is what it’s like when you are on a roll. Even those three-hour road trips from Chicago to Grand Rapids feel like they are taken on a magic carpet.
Crabb, 25, returned from a 26-game swing with Atlanta — the first NHL games of his career — and produced like a brand-new player for the Wolves. He left as a third-liner and penalty killer and returned to post six goals and two assists in his first six games back. That compares to 5 goals and 5 assists through his first 16 games with Chicago this season.
Crabb’s 11 goals this season are two more than he posted in 72 games for the Wolves last season. Maybe Granato knew something when he pulled Crabb aside shortly after he returned and told him to expect consistent power-play time. The last time Crabb heard such instructions was during his tenure at Colorado College.
“It took me a little while to get back into it. It’s been almost three years now,” Crabb said. “I think a lot of times I’m too (cautious) offensively for my own good. I think once someone puts some faith in me, it helps my confidence a lot and I do better. I felt pretty good when I was up there (the NHL). You come down here and it carries over. I’m using this opportunity to try to get called right back up. I don’t want to waste any time as far as getting back up there.”
Crabb has been around long enough to understand the quickest route back. His offensive output makes him happy that part of his game hasn’t rusted, but the reason the Thrashers gave him almost a third-of-a-season look is because of his handyman’s attitude.
“It definitely makes you want more. It makes you goal-hungry,” he said of the scoring. “I’m going to definitely try to keep scoring more when I’m here, but that’s not the end-all to my game. I think first and foremost I’m an energy guy. You have to look at the big picture, where you’re headed instead of where you are.”