Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:After five years of playing with the Islanders, Josh Bailey is finally where many people expected him to be when the team drafted him 2008.
In the first seven games of the 2013-14 season the 24-year-old Bowmenville, Ontario native has recorded three goals and four assists for seven points. Bailey is picking up on the success he had last season playing on the wing of Frans Nielsen and his confidence level has continued to grow.
During Thursday night’s 3-2 win over Edmonton, Bailey registered four shots on net and showed off some of his puck handling ability during several offensive chances. In one instance Bailey danced around two Oiler defenders before getting off a shot from the top of the slot.
“You saw out there some skill tonight,” Islanders’ Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “When he does that it’s usually in the right circumstance. He’s not at the offensive blue line, he’ protecting the blue line. I don’t take away the creativity of guys, but there is a time and place where you have to get the puck deep. In the instances he had tonight, he was creative and he got some good opportunities. And he shot the puck, which was good.”
Both Capuano and Bailey noted the rise in confidence, but Bailey was quick to credit his line mates for his success as well.
“When you play with a guy like Fran Nielsen, I think it goes without saying, it makes your job a lot easier,” Bailey said. “He’s a tremendous player. When you throw guys like Grabs and [Bouchard] in… I think whoevers been on our line we’ve all seemed to mesh pretty well.”
Bailey spent last season, and the end of the 2011-12 season, playing alongside Nielsen and the chemistry is obviously there. Michael Grabner has also been a part of that line and Pierre-Marc Bouchard, both of whom Bailey seemed to have to chemistry with as well.
Despite the early success, Bailey is not getting ahead of himself since he knows there are still a lot more games ahead.
“I’m not going to get too carried away. It’s only been a few games,” he said. “I just want to keep progressing and moving in the right direction.”