Every week of the 2018-19 season, our Rob Taub will discuss one player from the Islanders to look out for. Whether it’s past performances, certain matchups, or something about that player that makes worth spotlighting, each article will describe why they are being featured. Also — if one or two players, or the team is coming off a good week — there will be multiple spotlights.
As the Islanders enter perhaps the biggest week of the season starting tonight, their offense could still use a jolt.
That jolt was thought to be coming this past weekend leading into yesterday’s trade deadline. But g.m. Lou Lamoriello decided to stand pat and will let the dice roll with what has gotten his club to first place in the Metropolitan Division. What some might not think though, is that over the last few weeks, the Isles have gotten some of that push from winger Josh Bailey.
Bailey — ever since he scored he scored the game-winner in the shootout on February 7th in New Jersey — has been red-hot offensively. Coming into Tuesday night’s game against Calgary, he has four points in his last four contests and nine points in the last eight games. Bailey had two straight multi-point games in the Isles wins in Columbus and the Edmonton Oilers.
Even with being shuffled around in the past ten games, Bailey has been consistent.
Whether he’s been placed with Anthony Beauvillier and Val Filppula, Tom Kuhnhackl and Mat Barzal, or even Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin for a short stint, Bailey has found ways to pick up points and provide consistently. That consistency was warranted after Bailey went through a rough stretch. Following scoring the game-winning goal in Washington on January 18th, Bailey went a six games without a goal and totaled just two points offensively.
— IslesBlog (@IslesBlog) February 15, 2019
Bailey, who’s in the first year of a new six-year, $30 million dollar deal, has also proven to be just fine without former running mate, John Tavares.
The two were side by side the last two seasons, both with Bailey finishing with career-best numbers. Those numbers have taken a small hit, but haven’t gone down south completely. Bailey won’t reach his career-high of 71 points from a year ago, but he is on pace for his third straight 50-plus point campaign. Right now he sits at 46, five behind Barzal.
With the final quarter of the season here — and the Islanders clinging to that number one seed in the Metro — it’s crucial Bailey’s play of late sticks. That goes for the postseason as well.
The Isles have some difficult matchups with some of the league’s best offenses. They are going to have to match that. Bailey’s skill and speed, plus his line driving the attack, will help hopefully tighten that gap. And whoever the Islanders are squared up against come the start of the playoffs, Bailey is going to be relied on by the coaching staff to take his game to another level.
Follow me on Twitter at @RTaub_