Not Only Are the New York Islanders Skating Solid: So Is Josh Bailey

Mark BernsteinContributor INovember 23, 2009

TORONTO - NOVEMBER 23:  The New York Islanders celebrate OT winning goal by Josh Bailey during game action against the Toronto Maple Leafs November 23, 2009 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Abelimages/Getty Images

In his first season, the New York Islanders 2008 first-round draft pick Josh Bailey went under the radar, while young Kyle Okposo showed up to lead the team in scoring.  This season Okposo continues his on ice presence, and now Bailey is really turning up the heat netting his sixth goal of the season with a decisive game-winner at the end of overtime to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs.  With Matt Moulson at 11 goals, John Tavares at 9 and Jeff Tambellini having a scoring burst to aid his total of 7, Bailey has consistently raised his game in the background, quietly notching his six goals over the course of this season. 

During the beginning of this season and during last year, Bailey’s play making ability was apparent, but he seemed a little shy at driving the play or the net.  Bailey did not need to play reserved because based on the Islanders core last year he needed not worry about being sent down to Bridgeport.  However, it seemed that it wasn’t until late in the season after Okposo broke out on his tear that this NHL rookie began to realize this.

So this season is Bailey now benefiting just from the Tavares-Okposo effect or is his second season rise of confidence and consistency backed with the youthful support of Gordon raising him to new heights at the NHL level and to becoming an important part of the new Islander core?  Perhaps it is both.

What does seem to be reality is this - this young Islander team is solid.  Any team that gives up 61 shots and still hangs on to win the game in overtime at the end of a 7-game 3-2-2 successful road trip (even if it is with the help of a highlight reel game from 40-year old Snow-picked top goaltender Dwayne Rolonson), deserves a spot to entertain in the playoffs. 

The 2009-2010 Islanders are not flashy in design like a limited edition Ovechkin CCM Vector skate with yellow laces matching the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguin colors.  This molded group is more comparable to a top of the line, consistently reliable Bauer moldable hockey boot, baked at a low temperature over last season and cooling and hardening at the beginning of this one to form a solid skating core.  This core is keeping these new New York Islanders in games night after night with Bailey right in the middle of it, or now winning it.