Here’s the crazy thing about the Penguins frantically coming back in the third period down 3-1. With that aggressive forecheck and their D pre-pinching at every opportunity, Pittsburgh played like the Islanders do all the time. With Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal, of course.
While the Islanders’ less-than-bold play at the home rink – and that tonight’s fold came with Radek Martinek and Brendan Witt on the roster – is troubling, we’re not looking at this one as cause to hyperventilate. (We did that off the loss on Friday in Jersey. Not standing up – that was a disgrace).
Andy Sutton stumbled tonight, Monday it was Ryan O’Byrne putting the puck in the middle of his own net. Bill Guerin has been a bastion of leadership, tonight he took a shockingly selfish roughing penalty. That’s hockey.
Before he left the Coliseum tonight, I guarantee you Scott Gordon had two lists: one of his players able to do something about the Penguins’ persistence (the short one), and one with his players that didn’t have any answers. In his post-game press conference, Gordon was terse, beside himself. This one is going to stay with him until Friday.
In our continual search for the big picture – most of you saw the game and we look forward to your vents in Comments – we had dedicated tonight to writing about the status of Josh Bailey. With two assists tonight, we thought it had really worked out. Whether the Islanders’ 2008 first round pick sticks or not is still the team’s most pertinent story over the next few days.
THE 5-FOR-1 TRADE
(6 if you count Petrov. We don’t, but…)
The Islanders traded from the 5th overall selection in the 2008 draft to the 7th pick and then finally the 9th to take center Josh Bailey. Here is the (almost) final scorecard.
Would Have Taken 5th
Instead Came Away With…
Aaron Ness (2nd round)
Jyri Niemi (3rd round)
David Ullstrom (4th round)
Toronto’s second round pick in 2009
Islanders insiders also say they never would have drafted wild card Russian right wing Kirill Petrov if they didn’t have the extra third round pick. Petrov, taken with the third of their third-rounders, is the franchise’s most high-end prospect not currently in the NHL or AHL.
The Accounting: The Islanders traded the 5th overall pick to Toronto for the 7th overall pick, plus a second round pick in 2009 and third round pick in 2008. They traded the 7th overall pick to Nashville for the 9th overall pick and a second round pick in 2008. They later traded the third round pick acquired from Toronto to Chicago for a later third round pick and a fourth round pick.
BAILEY DESERVES TO STAY.
SHOULD HE STAY?
The issue is no longer whether Josh Bailey has earned a spot in the Islanders’ lineup. With his obvious talents, work habits and accomplishments, the 19-year old center has earned every consideration to spend the rest of the season with the Islanders.
The only question now is whether Bailey should stay, whether there is any downside, any potential harm, in the kid playing the rest of this NHL season. Judgment Day is Friday, after the Islanders play in Boston – Bailey’s 9th NHL game.
The view here is he should stay.
If the Islanders had a different head coach, I would be concerned. Scott Gordon is not a screamer, an over-reactor, a coach who plays to the cameras and the notebooks. He does not preside over a circus. He does not show favorites.
If Bailey was here at a different time, I would be concerned. This is a rebuilding team working in a system no one else is playing (Atlanta’s is different). Bailey is better served here – through the highs like now and the 8-game scoreless slumps – than in Windsor, where he would be joining a junior league team with a record of 22-2-0. They love them some Bailey in Windsor, but the Spitfires don’t exactly need him. The Islanders need him now, for reasons surpassing this season’s standings.
If Bailey had a different makeup, I would be concerned. He’s a smart young man who has handled the pressure of this 9-game audition with the coolness of Jean Beliveau. Nothing seems to faze him. Bailey isn’t worried, so I don’t think anyone else should be worried for him.
The return of centers Mike Sillinger (ETA: one week) and Mike Comrie (not anytime soon) should not factor into the Bailey equation. There’s enough icetime for everyone and Garth Snow and Scott Gordon have plenty of options, including trades, the waiver wire and luxury suite passes for any of the centers to watch the occasional game. The loss of Frans Nielsen only kicks down the door for Bailey staying that the Comrie injury nudged open.
If the Islanders send Bailey back to Windsor, let it be because they really felt he needed the development time in the Ontario League and the experience of playing at the WJC. It shouldn’t be because the kid can’t handle the pros, or because staying here will negatively impact his career. This isn’t Dave Chyzowski two decades ago. It isn’t Tim Connolly almost a decade ago. Different player. Different coach. Completely different circumstances.
20 WORDS FROM DOUG WEIGHT
We asked the veteran center and Bailey mentor if (Go-Go) Gordon goes easier on the older guys or does any hand-holding with the kids;
Said Weight: “Whether you’re 37 years old or 19 and you make a mistake, Gordo’s putting you in his video tomorrow morning.”
(Seriously: One question, one answer)
The answer might seem obvious, but always fair to ask the question…
Hey Josh Bailey! Where would you rather be: in the NHL in New York making fantastic dough to go up against the best players in the world
With the juggernaut Windsor Spitfires, quite possibly winning the Memorial Cup, and with Team Canada in Ottawa for the holidays, quite possibly winning a gold medal at the World Junior Championships?
Said Bailey in the locker room hallway at 5:10 tonight, “Here.”
We asked a visiting scout at tonight’s game to watch Bailey as much as he could for us, while watching the other 37 players for his boss. Here’s his scouting report on Bailey:
“His sense with and without the puck is outstanding. It’s why he was in on each of the first three goals and had assists on two. Like on Bill Guerin’s goal (to make it 3-0), he got knocked down, he got up, skated into position and one-timed the pass to Guerin. He knew where Guerin was. Bailey may have made it look simple, but it’s not for ten-year vets let alone a teenager. He puts himself in good situations to utilize his skill.
“He’s good along the wall, in cycles and in traffic with the puck. Having that kind of poise at 19 in his eighth NHL game is pretty impressive. And with that sense comes vision. He sees the ice really, really well.
“His skating at this level right now is okay, but that’s something you can work on. All the other stuff are gifts, and he has plenty of them.”
Asked whether Bailey should stay with the Islanders or return to junior, the scout said, “I don’t know the kid personally, so I can’t comment on whether he has the maturity to handle it. All I can tell you is that tonight he looks to me like an NHL player.”
Attention, Point Blankers: On Thanksgiving morning, we will post our latest CHECKLIST, the Interactive Blogitorial where you write the story. It’s a special holiday version and we think you’ll have some fun with it, so take some time on Thursday or Friday and get involved. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.