Don’t look now, but there somebody helping out captain John Tavares to a large degree. It’s New York Islanders winger Josh Bailey.
Six minutes into the second period the New York Islanders were leading the Montreal Canadiens 1-0. Josh Bailey received a pass from John Tavares at mid-ice and skated into the Habs zone. Bailey waited patiently and then delivered a sweet pass in between two Canadien defenders to Anders Lee who ended up all alone and buried a top shelf shot past goalie Carey Price to give the Islanders a 2-0.
The Isles went on to win 3-0, giving the Islanders their second win of a crucial nine-game road trip.
The 27-year-old Bailey has been enjoying a career year and his play has contributed vastly to the Islanders recent success and push for the playoffs. After assisting on a Tavares empty netter, Bailey tallied his season point total to 43, topping his career-high 41 which he set back during the 2014-2015 season. It also gave him his 31st assist, which is also a new career high. He’s sitting on 12 goals right now and is on pace to break his career high of 16, which he did in his second year in the league back in 2009-2010.
Bailey has always been under scrutiny since he signed five-year, 16.5 million dollar contract before the 2013-2014 season. Fans felt the former ninth overall pick wasn’t playing up to his contract with his mediocre play. But the Bowmanville, Ontario native has taken great strides during this 2016-2017 campaign.
This season, Bailey has been one of the more consistent players for the Islanders. Even during the team’s rough stretch at the beginning of the season, Bailey was producing points. However, Bailey has shined the brightest during the Islanders recent winning record under interim coach Doug Weight. During the 18 games playing for Weight, Bailey has recorded six goals and eight assists giving him a total of 14 points with a +7 rating.
Many of these points came up in clutch situations.
One of Bailey’s best performances occurred on February 6 against the Maple Leafs. Bailey had three points, all late in the game. He scored in the third period to tie the game and then later assisted Andrew Ladd to help tie the game again and send that game to overtime. Bailey then went on to assist Brock Nelson for the overtime game winner, giving the Islanders a huge two points in a comeback victory.
It’s no question that the Bailey-Tavares-Lee has been the most productive and fun to watch for the Islanders this season. It’s been awesome to watch these guys mesh together and bring the best abilities out of each other.
There’s no better example of their chemistry than against their last win against the Rangers when Tavares passed the puck from the boards to Bailey who hit Lee on a cross-ice pass to tie the game up at 1-1.
Doug Weight has been impressed with Bailey and his linemates play of late.
“It’s been a clinic by them for six, seven weeks. They’re really confident right now and I’m confident in them, the team’s feeding off their play as well,” Weight told Arthur Staple of Newsday.
One aspect Bailey has been great with this year is how patient he has been with the puck and waiting for the right pass or shot. Bailey demonstrated this twice during the 3-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night. Bailey scored a goal after intercepting a pass from Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek and took his time in the slot before ripping a goal by him to put the Islanders on the board 1-0.
Later in the third period, Bailey made a nice move to gain separation in the slot and drew Mrazek across the crease before dishing a pass back to Tavares for the easy goal, giving the Islanders a 3-1 cushion.
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 22, 2017
Bailey, with his new career highs, cannot stop now. He needs to keep raking in points while the Islanders continue their playoff push. They still have seven games left of a crucial and tough road trip. The Islanders are sitting in the second wild card spot for now, but the red hot Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins are breathing down their necks.
Islander fans have very mixed feelings about Josh Bailey, but even if you’re a hater, you have to appreciate his production to the team this season.