bailey JT

Josh Bailey is fitting in on the first line

Is Josh Bailey developing into a legitimate first line winger?

After being promoted to the first line on January 9, Bailey has posted two goals and six assists in six games. He is a combined +4 in those contests.

Bailey is under contract through the 2017-18 season with an AAV of $3.3 million.

Brian Erni

Baileys season can really be broken up into three segments. Out of the gate, he was playing extremely well (two goals, two assists , +2 in seven games). Then, after he broke his wrist in Boston, he struggled upon his return (one goal, two assists, +1 in 10 games after returning from injury). But once Bailey snapped a six game pointless streak on December 9, he’s returned to his early season form and was rewarded with a promotion to the first line.

Bailey tends to be some fans’ favorite whipping boy. I get that he may not be living up to the lofty expectations some had for him, but the former first round pick is actually developing into a nice left wing compliment for John Tavares and Kyle Okposo. He’s not the possession monster that most of these Islanders forwards are (his 86 Corsi is only slightly better than Casey Cizikas’s 84 and Matt Martin’s 83), but Bailey’s defensive mindedness certainly provided the first line a needed edge. He’s a strong back checker — which was on full display in both the Rangers and Flyers wins last week  — and he’s shown a better play-making ability since he made the transition to wing two seasons ago. Is he ever going to score 30? Probably not, but the Islanders don’t need him to.

In light of the Okposo injury, Bailey will need to maintain his current level of play. If he can, he’s an affordable option under team control that can stabilize the black hole that has been the top line’s left wing.

okposo third

Kyle Okposo out six to eight weeks

UPDATE, 2:54 PM: Kyle Okposo will miss six-to-eight weeks with an upper body injury, coach Jack Capuano announced.

Okposo did not skate at practice on Monday. (Staple, Jan 26)

Mikhail Grabovski filled in on right wing with the first line.

Brian Erni

Well, I guess that solves the forward dilemma for the time being…

This couldn’t come at a worse time. Okposo was blazing hot before the break, with the high point coming in the form of a four-goal game against the Penguins. Unfortunately, the Islanders don’t have time to lament this one. With three big conference games (Rangers, Boston, Detroit) scheduled for this week, they’ll need Grabovski to jump right back into the thick of things and get a rapport going with John Tavares. The end of the eight week window should put Okposo back around the middle of March. Let’s hope he’ll be healthy and ready for a postseason run.

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

The Islanders are in a much better place than they have been in years, but the loss of Kyle Okposo to start the second half of the season certainly hurts.

However, this is not the blow that it would have been last season. The depth the Islanders added during the offseason will help them weather the storm in Okposo’s absence. The Isles have gotten scoring from all four of their lines and the improvement of the team’s younger talent have made them a high scoring team. Okposo is certainly an important piece of the Islanders core, but his absence will not be a major detriment to the team’s playoff chances.

boychuk goal

Tavares praises Boychuk’s attitude and focus

John Tavares was on the national stage this weekend, when he skated in the NHL All-Star Game, but the Islanders’ captain credited “Johnny Rocket” for helping to take the Islanders to the next level.

Tavares praised Johnny Boychuk on Friday when asked about the difference between this year’s club and the Isles of the past.

“Johnny is quite the character. He’s an awesome guy, and he’s really fit the team tremendously,” Tavares told reporters during NHL All-Star media day. “Sometimes it’s not even really what he says. I remember a couple of times earlier in the year where we lost two or three in a row, and you just see his attitude and his focus. It doesn’t change. There’s no panic, or real nervousness, or hesitation in his game. It’s just the same. ”

Boychuk, 31, has four goals (all on the power play), 18 assists, 22 points and is a +15 in 36 games this season. He will be an unrestricted free agent as the end of the year.

Brian Erni

Boychuk has really endeared himself to this team and the fan base is a hurry. That’s not an easy task, especially on a close-knit club that came up together. But his win-first mentality has been the perfect compliment to the room, and Tavares’ comments seem to back that up. Boychuk is exactly the kind of player the Islanders lacked last season. He bolsters both their blueline and their character. Now, the only question remains is if he’ll stay.

It’s been eerily quiet on the Boychuk extension front. Both Johnny’s camp and Garth Snow haven’t said a word, and I take that as a good sign. The murmurs indicate that the two sides are talking and working to find common ground, and I really hope they do. Boychuk’s shot is a great weapon for the power play and his experience in big games should stabilize a young core come springtime.

‘Potentially historic’ snow storm could impact Tuesday’s Islanders-Rangers game

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

Update 9:52: Tuesday’s game could be moved to Wednesday due to the impending storm. Pierre McGuire said, during an appearance on TSN 1050 radio in Toronto, “that there’s a real good chance that [Islanders vs Rangers] will get canceled and moved to Wednesday night.”

The New York Islanders will return to work after the All-Star break just in time for a potentially historic snow storm to hit Long Island.

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at New York IslandersForecasters are predicting up to 30 inches of snow could blanket the New York metropolitan area Monday into Tuesday, which could impact Tuesday’s Islanders vs. Rangers game at Nassau Coliseum. There has been no word on whether or not the league will postpone the game, but with a possibly monumental storm heading towards the northeast the NHL is likely monitoring the situation.

The Rangers have altered their practice schedule and will be heading out to Long Island earlier than they planned. The Blueshirts will practice at Nassau Coliseum on Monday afternoon and stay on Long Island Monday night. The Isles will also practice at the Coliseum on Monday.

The storm is expected to begin begin Monday afternoon into Tuesday. The heaviest snowfall and strongest winds are expected to hit between late Monday night into Tuesday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has also said that the Long Island Expressway and Long Island Rail Road could be shut down before the evening commute on Monday. To read more of this story, click here

GIF: Tavares’ 4 goal night at All-Star Game

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

John Tavares had a memorable night at the 2015 NHL All-Star Game.

The Islanders’ captain  scored a record tying four goals for Team Toews in their 17-12 win over Team Foligno. Tavares is the first players to score four goals in an All-Star Game since Danny Heatly did so in 2003.

In case you missed it, here are John Tavares’ four goals he recorded Sunday night in Columbus:

Tavares uses some nifty moves to get into the offensive zone and then out waits Carey Price to score. To read more of this story, click here


Tavares’ 4 goals tie All-Star record in Team Toews’ win

The Islanders’ John Tavares tied an NHL All-Star game record with four goals to lead Team Toews to a 17-12 victory over Team Foligno Sunday in Columbus, Ohio.

Tavares scored once in the first period, twice in the second, and once in the third. He shares the record with Wayne Gretzky (1983), Mario Lemieux (1990), Vincent Damphousse (1991), Mike Gartner (1993) and Dany Heatley (2003).

Goalie Jaroslav Halak, the Islanders’ other All-Star representative, had six saves on 10 shots.

Columbus’ Ryan Johansen (two goals, two assists) was voted MVP by fans.

The Islanders resume the regular season at home against the Rangers Tuesday (weather permitting).

Links: AP recap | Box score

A letter to Brooklyn: Don’t force the fan experience

Brian Erni

While we’re all ensconced in the warmth that is this love affair of one final season in Uniondale, the sobering specter of Barclays Center looms in the distance. Almost all the players will be the same, and the uniforms (supposedly) will remain relatively untouched, but the Islanders will lose its most endearing quality of all in just three months’ time:  the fan experience at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

First, some background. Some of you know that I also write about the Nets, but my roots are at Nassau Coliseum. I’m a Suffolk County kid, born and raised. My dad and I had season tickets starting in 1996-97, through the Milstein/Gluckstern days, into the Peca and Yashin playoff era, until the first lockout. There are Brad Isbister and Tim Connolly jerseys hanging in my closet as proof. My father goes back even further, as he had his first season seats starting in ’75-’76 in Section 331 and gave them up the September he married my mom (1979. Yes, he’s still kicking himself). This is all to say that I’m partial, because the Nassau Coliseum is in my blood and I truly believe its the best building in all of sports.isles fan barclays

Its flaws are obvious. You can’t move in the concourses on sell out nights, and there are about three men’s rooms in the joint. No matter how hard they try, they won’t get me to think funnel fries are a good idea. The roof leaks, there’s (probably) asbestos everywhere, and every time I plop down in one of those padded green seats, about 43 years of dust flies into the air. It doesn’t matter. Because when you’re there, it’s an experience that cannot be replicated anywhere else.

Fans are simply there to watch a hockey game. Distractions aren’t available, either in amenities or cell service. It’s why the the Old Barn, and the fan fervor that goes along with it, is getting its well-deserved laps in the victory circle these last few months. The Isles faithful is into the game, and the players can hear and feel it all.

“The rink is full, and it has been loud,” John Tavares told the Wall Street Journal this week. “You can feel the passion from the fans; and there’s appreciation from us.”

To read more of this story, click here