Islanders Need To Keep Anders Lee and Josh Bailey Together
By Matt O'Leary
Anders Lee and Josh Bailey, two of the longest tenured Islanders at this point, and for good reason. They’ve both developed their game, for Bailey it took a little longer than Lee, and turned into productive top-six players.
Back in 2016-2017, the Islanders got this great idea of putting Lee and Bailey alongside John Tavares and for a year and a half, it was downright dominant.
Anders Lee had 74 goals over that two-year period and Josh Bailey combined for 127 points in that two-year span. There’s no denying that the unit was insanely productive. As we all know, John Tavares left after 2017-2018, and for the last three years, those two have moved around the lineup a lot.
When the two are together though, even without Tavares, they remain productive. In 507 minutes together since the start of 2018-2019, the duo has combined for a whopping 67.35 goals for percentage, a 52.74 high danger chances for percentage, and a 65.71 high danger goals for percentage according to Natural Stat Trick.
What does all of that mean? They generate a lot of high danger chances and don’t give up very many goals when they’re together. The two just seem to have great chemistry when they’re out there together.
Here’s a great example of that from the February 15 game against Buffalo:
A beauty of a feed from Bailey to Lee who is streaking towards the net and is able to get a puck on net. I mean, just look at Josh Bailey’s production since moving back to the top line this season. In his last eight games, he has eight points (1 goal, 7 assists).
With Anthony Beauvillier back and Brock Nelson struggling, there’s a discussion about reuniting Beauviller – Nelson – Bailey. Instead, I’d try something like this until Nelson begins producing again:
Lee – Barzal – Bailey
Beauvillier – Pageau – Eberle
Dal Colle – Nelson – Wahlstrom
Martin – Cizikas – Clutterbuck
This way, you keep the top line that’s producing very well together while also allowing your second best center (right now) to play alongside two higher-ceiling forwards than the third liners he usually runs with.
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Regardless, the point remains the same. Whatever you do, please keep Anders Lee and Josh Bailey together. It’s been proven to work.