November 24, 2010

Hamonic to Debut; Bailey a "Passenger?"

6:35 PM - Apparently, the answer to that question is a resounding yes.

The Islanders made a surprising move today as they sent Josh Bailey down to Bridgeport. More on thoughts surrounding that in a separate post.

The Islanders take on the Blue Jackets at 7. In an unsurprising move, Rick DiPietro gets the start. I figured he would based on the way he played in Sunday's OT loss to Atlanta.

Very curious to see what the line combinations look like. If yesterday was any indication, you can expect to see Rob Schremp centering the 2nd line.

Be sure to check back for any thoughts as well as that post on Bailey.

8:25 AM - As expected, the Islanders called up defenseman Travis Hamonic on an emergency basis to take the place of the injured Mike Mottau.

Mottau was cleared to fly and was released from the hospital. He will be looked at by team doctors back here in New York.

Hamonic gets his chance now, albeit a little earlier than we expected, and probably hoped for. He is only 19 games into his pro career.

I liked what I saw from Hamonic's games in the preseason. However, I mentioned multiple times that he needed a little seasoning. He isn't there yet, but at this point beggars can't be choosers. The injury situation between both the Islanders and the Sound Tigers left Hamonic as one of the only available options. We'll see how long his stay lasts. Since Andrew MacDonald has been skating with the team a little lately, one can assume that he might be close to returning. If Mottau is out for a while, I would imaging Hamonic is just taking a spot for the short term until MacDonald is ready to go.

In the meantime, I'll be very interested to see how much ice time Hamonic will get. Does Jack Capuano, who spoke very highly of him, give him important minutes? Or does he get around 10 minutes a night? Only Capuano knows the answers to these questions. If it were me, I would have to see how it goes. Plan to roll the defensive units fairly equally to star, and if you see something you like, or a pairing that's working, then roll with it a little more. If Hamonic was one of those guys, then so be it. The experience would be great, and if he really plays that well for a 20 year old then it'll be one of the few bright spots we have seen all season.

Josh Bailey practiced on the fourth line with Zenon Konopka and Matt Martin, a move that was somewhat of a surprise. Capuano made it sound like he was trying to send a message to Bailey, and hasn't ruled out scratching him for the game against the Blue Jackets. As Katie Strang reports (subscription required) last season Bailey went on a bit of a tear after being scratched.

I know many people are concerned about the play of Bailey lately, and I am too. I don't think he's feeling the effects of that hip pointer injury still. Throughout the slump, he has had some good efforts and some bad efforts.

One thing that needs to really be pointed out is how much Bailey has been moved around. Since being rushed up to the NHL for the 2008-09 season, Bailey has constantly had his position and line mates switched. Some of that is due to injuries, but one thing that has not been constant over the last couple of weeks is Bailey's place in the line-up.

This goes back to one of the knocks on Gordon. Meanwhile, Capuano played Bailey for only 17 minutes the other day while P.A. Parenteau got almost 20.

I know it's a bit of a difficult situation since Rob Schremp apparently can't or won't play anywhere but at center. But the Islanders need to find a place for Bailey, and let him stick it out in that position, with the same line mates for more than two or three games. As the losses mount, that may be a tough idea for the coaching staff to swallow. But we've reached a point where guys need to be put into areas that better suit them. This team is not better off with Parenteau getting more minutes than Bailey.

If there is one guy who I would point out as being a "passenger," to steal the phrase Capuano used after the Florida game, it would be Blake Comeau. He is a far cry from the player we saw at the end of last season and the beginning of this season. He has had the fortune to play on lines with some of the better players, and is still alarmingly unnoticeable out there. He's not hitting as much and not as good on the forecheck.

If Bailey ends up being the first guy who has a message sent to him, Comeau should be next.

More to come later.

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