As a player who has been a healthy scratch more times than he’d like to admit, Joey Crabb knows the view from an NHL press box is a lot different than from an NHL bench.
“Obviously, the game is a lot easier from up top,” Crabb said Tuesday before making his Capitals debut against the Winnipeg Jets. “When you’re down at ice level and playing the game it feels like it’s coming at you 100 miles an hour.
“But when you’re up in the stands it looks like you can be making all the plays that [Wayne] Gretzky makes.”
A hard-hitting right wing who is probably a few inches shorter than his advertised 6-foot-1, Crabb signed a one-year, one-way contract with the Capitals worth $950,000 on July 1. It was the first big payday for the 29-year-old native of Anchorage, Alaska, who spent most of his first six professional seasons in the AHL.
Crabb’s breakthrough season in the NHL came last year in Toronto when he recorded 11 goals and 15 assists 67 games. He sat out the Caps’ season opener in Tampa but made his Caps debut against the Jets on a fourth line with Mathieu Perreault and Matt Hendricks.
Crabb’s NHL career actually began the Atlanta Thrashers, who last season moved to Winnipeg. He played with goaltender Ondrej Pavelec and center Bryan Little when they were with the Thrashers and with defenseman Mark Stuart at ColoradoCollege.
He said his former teammates were excited to move from Atlanta to Winnipeg, where they play in front of sellout crowds every night.
“They loved it,” Crabb said. ”Obviously, they liked the city of Atlanta. But the fan support is way, way better in Winnipeg. Any time you can play in front of fans like that -- they might be one of the loudest in the league -- so I know that they’re real pumped about it and the city treats them real well.”
As for what Capitals fans can expect from him, Crabb said he’s a high-emergy forward who can kill penalties and use his body.
“I bump around, he said. “I wouldn’t say I crush guys, but I’ll throw the body around.”
Loose pucks: The Caps have won their last 10 home openers and have not lost a home opener since 2000 against Los Angeles. They’ve outscored their opponents 48-21 in those games.