Josh Bailey Is Leading a Resurgent Islanders Team
Since the New Year, the Islanders have been on a roll, winning five of their six games played so far.
Scoring, which had been at a lull recently, has exploded in the month of January, with 23 goals in six games.
And, on top of that, the goaltending from Dwayne Roloson has been nothing short of spectacular, and now with Rick DiPietro back between the pipes, that position only gets stronger.
But one of the biggest factors in the Islanders' recent success has been the play of 20-year-old center Josh Bailey.
The second-year player, in the first month of the new decade, has exploded, with three goals and seven assists for 10 points in just six games.
In fact, he compiled these statistics in five games, as in last night's game against Buffalo he was held pointless for the first time in seven games.
Bailey has always been known to be a great passer; he sees the ice very well, and recently he has been setting up his teammates very well for goals.
However, he hasn't been coy enough to just pass. He has been excelling at other aspects of the game as well.
Against the Phoenix Coyotes, he finished with a goal and two assists, but the goal was a spectacular shot from just inside the blue line, and he ripped it over the glove of the Coyotes net minder, Ilya Bryzgalov.
In past situations, Bailey would be more likely to pass off to a teammate, but this time he took the initiative, and put the Islanders up 4-1. (Islanders won the game 5-4 in a shootout.)
Another example of his improved play was when the Islanders faced the Dallas Stars on Jan. 8.
Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro passed the puck to veteran winger Trent Hunter, who skated forward down the right boards before flicking the puck into the zone.
Bailey went in skating hard, and the puck took a tricky bounce, which put the opposing goalie (Marty Turco) out of position, and Bailey capitalized and tipped the puck into the back of the net.
Bailey's aggressive forecheck didn't necessarily cause the puck to bounce on the ice the way it did, but it put him in a great position to score, which he did.
Later in that game, Kyle Okposo gained the zone with the puck and brought it behind the Stars goal before being checked off the puck.
But Bailey followed the play, and just a second later applied the hit on the defenseman Trevor Daley, which caused the puck to trickle loose to a waiting Okposo, who buried it in the half-open net.
Had Bailey not followed up on the play and checked Daley, the opportunity would not have happened, and the Islanders would have had to go right back on defense.
Scott Gordon has done a great job teaching the young Islanders how to play a complete game of hockey, and we are seeing the results now.
As long as Josh Bailey keeps producing and playing the way he is, the wins will come.
Hopefully, we will continue to see him in an Islanders jersey for a long time.
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