It's been a struggle for New York Islanders forward Josh Bailey this year. Before Thursday night's performance against the Devils, Bailey had 12 points in 23 games. That's less than half-a-point per game.
No one expects Bailey to win a scoring title, but to have him be less than a 40 point player is not ideal for a club that relies on a core of steady vets to perform to their potential night-in and night-out like the Islanders do.
And Josh Bailey knew he needed to step up his game. He jokingly addressed it last night after he scored the team's opening goal. He wondered out loud if the Isles faithful remembered the words to the "Josh Bailey Song". (They of course did and it was glorious.)
Along with that power-play goal, Josh Bailey picked up the primary assist on Mathew Barzal's game-winning goal. Bailey finished the game as the Isles second-highest game score (after Parise) with a 1.25GS.
It's a performance the islanders have been desperately waiting for - and desperately needed - from the third longest-serving player in club history.
New York Islanders needed that Josh Bailey performance badly
As a consistent fixture in the Islanders top-six, Bailey hasn't been playing like one this year. At 5on5, his xGF% is 18th, SCF% is 16th, and HDCF% ranks 25th. Getting something out of him is absolutely necessary to maximize that top-six.
Perhaps, rather than wait for Bailey to step up the Isles could maybe play him in a lower role, say on the third line, but they seem quite against the idea of taking Bailey out of their top two lines. Even when his performances dictate that they should.
Barry Trotz and his staff seem to want to basically force Mathew Barzal to shoot more by giving him a setup man on the right-wing over someone like Oliver Wahlstrom, even if it makes all the sense in the world to give Wahlstrom top-line minutes.
So, to save the Islanders from themselves they needed Bailey to step up. Now, last night's effort was just one game and his underlying numbers for that game aren't entirely positive for him (10th in xGF%, 18th for SCF%, and 7th for HDCF%). So, Bailey isn't "back" yet. But stringing together a few performances like he did last night is exactly what the Isles need.