The Emergence of Josh Bailey
Josh Bailey has been an incredibly inconsistent contributor for the New York Islanders. Bailey is playing in his fourth season with the Islanders, a member of the team since 2008-09. He missed the first fourteen games of his rookie season with a lower-body injury; he would play his first NHL game on November 11, 2008 at home versus the Philadelphia Flyers. Josh recorded his first NHL point just one game later on November 13 in Ottawa when he assisted on Kyle Okposo’s game tying goal. The Islanders went on to win the game 3-1.
Bailey recorded eight more assists on the road to his first goal, which came on January 2, 2009, in the same game as Doug Weight’s 1,000 point, against the Phoenix Coyotes. The game was bittersweet for Bailey, who was enthusiastic about his first goal, but disheartened by the 5-4 loss. He went on to record 25 points in his rookie campaign finishing with 7 goals and 18 assists. (Photo Credit: thehockeyjunkies.blogspot.com)
Bailey followed up his rookie season with his best season to-date in the NHL. He played in 73 games and recorded a career high 16 goals and 19 assists for 35 points. Bailey recorded the first 2 game winning goals of his career and was the Islanders’ plus/minus leader at +5. On October 22, 2009 Josh recorded the first shorthanded goal of his NHL career, it was the only Islanders’ goal in a 5-1 blowout at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens. Midway through the season he was moved from center to wing in order to join the Islanders first line with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo, a move that Jack Capuano and all future Islander coaches should learn from. Bailey’s offensive prowess went full throttle when he was moved onto the wing, a seemingly better fit for the young Ontario native forward, at the NHL level.
To begin the 2010-11 season Bailey was moved back to center and despite a dynamic start to the season consistent struggling forced Islanders’ coach Scott Gordon to send Bailey to their AHL affiliates, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. While his stint in Bridgeport was short, it helped Josh find his offensive touch, scoring 17 points in just 11 games. Bailey returned to the Islanders’ roster and went on to record 11 goals and 17 assists in 70 games for the Islanders. He finished the season with a career high in both power play goals (5) and penalty minutes (37).
This season Bailey has been relatively inconsistent, however he has been one of the Islander’s best performers and key contributors as of late. Through 70 games so far this season Bailey has 10 goals and 10 assists with a career high 2 shorthanded goals. One shorthanded goal came in the Islanders’ 4-1 rout of the Philadelphia Flyers, and the other in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Bailey has gone back and forth between center and wing this season giving his best performances while on the wing. Up until recent changes the line of Bailey-Nielsen-Ullstrom was possibly the Islanders’ best line. (Photo Credit: thedrivefor5.wordpress.com)
Josh is one of the Islanders’ best penalty killers, with 2 shorthanded goals this season, and his work ethic every shift he is the epitome of the blue-collar hockey that the Islanders are known for. I believe that if used correctly and put on the wing Bailey could be a top 5 forward on the New York Islanders. I would love to see the line of Bailey-Nielsen-Ullstrom be the second line behind Moulson-Tavares-Parenteau. Josh could be a key contributor to the Islanders’ team and organization, look for him to have a true breakout year next season as the Islanders will come out and make a real push for the playoffs.
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