If there’s a player that New York Islanders fans love to hate, it’s Josh Bailey. But contrary to popular belief, Josh Bailey is good at hockey.
Josh Bailey was drafted ninth overall in 2008 by the New York Islanders. After a 71 point season between the Owen Sound Attack and Windsor Spitfires, much was expected of the Bowmanville native.
In his follow up season with the Spitfires he put 96 points. Perfect! The Isles might just have a good one to stock their roster.
But much to the chagrin of Islanders fans through his first eight seasons in the NHL Bailey sputtered to a career high 41 points. Until last season where he put up 56 points.
I’ve already explored that Bailey wasn’t in fact “carried” by Tavares and Lee, but was an active participant in the success of that line. Much like Tavares and Lee. Beleive it or not.
It’s true that Bailey spent the year next to John Tavares and Anders Lee, there’s no denying it. But when you look at the numbers, like I did in the previous post, Bailey wasn’t just a dependant on the line.
Bailey is good at hockey. That’s a controversial statement in Islanders fandom. But he is. Don’t just trust some convoluted numbers that I dug up from a site that no longer exists (RIP stats.hockeyanalysis.com).
I dug up some tape to give Bailey the look-see and how he drove play.
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I picked two plays from the 2017-18 season where Josh Bailey. There are others, but I picked these two for just how obviously fantastic Josh Bailey was. How he drove play is clear and distinct in each of these plays.
The first one is from February 23rd, 2017 against the Montréal Canadiens. Josh Bailey pulls four, four defenders towards him as he enters the zone before he threads a pass to Anders Lee who finishes it off perfectly.
Bailey’s skills are on full display in this play. His ability to create plays and setup his teammates are what make him a good hockey player. The pass he lays off to Lee is perfect. Bailey holds the puck long enough for Lee to get behind the defenders and an open lane on Carey Price.
If you pause the video at the right time (four seconds in) you can see Bailey look up and make eye contact with Lee. Lee still had a lot to do to finish the play, it was Carey Price after all, but the opportunity was only possible because of Bailey.
Play number two,
Again, Bailey finds himself open in the faceoff dot again the New York Rangers on February 16th, 2017. Instead of trying to get a shot on Antti Raanta, who’s got a sprawling Brady Skjei already blocking a lane, he dishes through to Anders Lee coming around the net.
Again, Bailey is able to recognize a better option in Lee who’s wide open and tosses the puck through to him. Josh Bailey is able to get it through two defenders, one (Skjei), who’s convinced that Bailey is about to shoot.
This isn’t to argue that the New York Islanders need Josh Bailey, but rather to put pen to paper that Bailey is good at hockey. The video along with the numbers already reviewed should at least plant a seed of doubt in any doubters minds. I hope.