The start of the 2021 season for Josh Bailey was about as bad as it could get for him. Through the first three games of the New York Islanders season, he had one point but was still somehow a -5 as the second line was in shambles early on.
After the Columbus game, Barry Trotz specifically called out the second line and decided to shake them up. Well, it worked wonders (go figure) as Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson, Kyle Palmieri, and Anthony Beauvillier all put up points the following game against Arizona.
For Bailey, it appeared like he got his first goal of the season on the power play but instead it was decided that the puck ended up deflecting off Nelson’s stick and in. His performance in Vegas was his first “big” game of the 2021 season and boy did he need it. He got the Islanders on the board with this goal just 2:16 into the game:
There are a few things to like from this goal. First, Bailey gets the puck into the zone by chipping it and then he keeps it in at the blue line. He breaks up the ice and ends up locating JG Pageau on a nice backhand pass and then goes right to the net. Nothing super flashy, it was just sound hockey from Bailey from top to bottom.
I arguably enjoyed his assist on the Mathew Barzal goal more than his actual goal. Once again, Bailey did a good job keeping the puck in the zone and finding Mat Barzal
Yes, Mathew Barzal does a beautiful job burying the puck but he points to Josh Bailey right away as if to credit Josh with the key role in the play. This is the Josh Bailey the Isles need, not the invisible version we saw through the first four games.
Just look at the improvement in Game Score, game over game:
Last year, Bails had 35 points in 54 games which is a pace of 53 points over a full season. We’re not going to do a point pace after six games (he does have four points in six games now though) but last year would’ve paced him out to another 50 point season.
Essentially for five years in a row, Bailey has played to a 50 point pace of better. He still gets a lot of hate, at the start of this year the criticism was absolutely warranted for his poor performance, but let’s not forget to give credit where credit is due here.