Josh Bailey now has three goals in two games, a surprising stat considering he had five on the season as of Monday. We’ve seen flashes from Bailey many times before and there’s no doubt that this could be yet another. But it’s certainly nice to see him come around, scoring three goals in the past two games.
There are a lot of ways to look at this recent spurt of production. Maybe Brian Rolston was an anchor on Bailey’s wing. Maybe now that he’s on the wing himself and has a defensive minded center next to him in Frans Nielsen,– who also happens to be producing offensively lately — Bailey has a lot less to worry about in terms of positioning and defensive responsibility. Or, of course, it could be a flash in the pan and the mob can soon pick back up their pitchforks. He’s obviously not going to be scoring a goal every night but at this point, any sustained improvement is a welcome sight.
Unfortunately for the Islanders it was mostly Bailey, Nielsen and linemate Casey Cizikas that were able to help get the puck in the net. Kyle Okposo added a goal in the third and Mark Streit had two helpers but three goals were not nearly enough. The Flyers woke up after coach Peter Laviolette took a time out in the first period with his team down 1-0. They would respond by scoring two goals before the period ended to take a 2-1 lead into the break and wouldn’t look back, eventually putting five past Evgeni Nabokov plus an empty netter.
Nabokov was not sharp and allowed the five tallies on only 29 shots. With back-to-backs on Saturday and Sunday it’s got to be just about a guarantee now that we’ll see Nilsson or – long shot here – Montoya one of those nights. Speaking of Nilsson, who manned the end of the bench for the Islanders tonight, he was named AHL player of the month. This comes after Kevin Poulin was named first start for the month of January. The Islanders future in net sure looks bright, as they have two of the best goalies in the AHL.
The loss moves the Islanders to nine back of eighth place Winnipeg Jets in the Eastern Conference standings and this is the last I’m going to be talking about the playoffs. With the way teams are trying to stay away from the eighth spot (see: Toronto’s last ten games), you would think there’s always a chance but there’s not. The point system is deceptive as compared to the old one and nine points is more like 12 or 14 under the old no-loser point system. It doesn’t matter how bad the rest of the conference is playing, it’s near impossible to make up that ground given all the bonus points floating around. Not only that, this is not a team (3-6-1 last ten games) that is playing like there will be any miracle run.
The Islanders have had excellent first line play for much of the year. They’ve had a goalie stand on his head many nights. The last couple games there has been the much maligned secondary scoring. However, this team does not put all of the above together in winning harmony most nights. More important than any magic standings number is the ability to, you know, actually play solid hockey. 3-6-1 in their last ten is not the least bit characteristic of any team that’s making any kind of a playoff push.
Now sit back, relax, and hope kids like Ullstrom and Cizikas light it up, Bailey isn’t just a flash and Nino Niederreiter finds his way onto the ice.