March 30, 2012

Bailey's Breakout Gives Isles Sweep of Pens

With the season rapidly winding down, the Islanders have been getting scoring out of some unlikely candidates of late. One of these individuals is Josh Bailey, who continued his hot play with a five point night on Thursday, seemingly telling the world not to count him out just yet.

"I haven't put up too many points throughout the course of my career so far," Bailey said to us after the game. "Things have been going pretty well, and our line is finding ways to get onto the score sheet."

His line has consisted of Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo, with Bailey playing the wing. Each time he's been moved there in his career he's produced. For some reason though, he's continuously been moved back to center which adds the pressure of having to be solid in his own end. The defensive side is something that Bailey has been able to get better at though over the course of this season.

Now, moving to wing again we're able to see Bailey change his mindset a bit. Earlier this season he spoke about how he was a "pass first" guy. Now he's shooting more and the puck is finding the back of the net. He's been a huge part in carrying this team as they have won five of their last six games.

Jack Capuano liked what he saw from the line as well. When asked what was different for Bailey and the others right now, Capuano was quick to point out that they are "moving their legs." That concept seems simple, but it's been very difficult for the Islanders to do that on a regular basis. Far too often we've seen them stand around. The last couple of weeks have brought some welcome changes.

Okposo added two goals of his own, to set a new career high in goals with 20. Who would have thought that given the way he started, Okposo would be able to do that? His entire game has rounded into form, and he seems a lot quicker than he was at the beginning of the year. With a relatively healthy 2011-2012 campaign, one would figure Okposo will take better care of himself to ensure he stays in this shape throughout the offseason.

Marty Reasoner opened the scoring for the Islanders, after streaking down the middle of the offensive zone where Mark Streit found him for a quick wrist shot. It was the centers first goal of the season after a long wait, and he provided a priceless celebration as the relief showed on his face. Congrats to Reasoner.

For the most part the Islanders did a great job of containing Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Malkin scored a goal for his 100th point of the season but that would be all he'd get.

Al Montoya did a good job filling in for Evgeni Nabokov as he makes his final stand to try and get a job as Nabokov's back-up next season. He'll have five more games to strut his stuff. Both Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson (who is injured right now) will stay down in Bridgeport. John Grahame was signed on Thursday to be Montoya's back-up. Thursday night he made a few great saves and was beaten by some tough shots, but for the most part he stopped the shots you want your goalie to stop, and then some.

The Islanders did avoid elimination again, and moved to within a point of 10th in the conference. As a small victory, they finally were able to reach NHL .500. We'll see if they can get above and beyond that mark as the season comes to a close, but that would actually show some tangible progress is being made, to an extent of course. But they are trying to get there now on the legs of secondary scoring, with guys who are in better shape then they had been earlier this year. Maybe it's something they can enjoy now, and keep in the back of their minds when they head into their offseason training regiments.

The Islanders have home games Saturday and Sunday they will now prepare for, where they will try and play spoilers for Boston and to a greater extent Ottawa. Ottawa is in danger of losing their 7th seed.


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