, now in his fourth season with the Islanders, may not have started the 2011-12 season the way he had hoped. Following the team's mantras of commitment and pride, he now is starting to find his stride.
“I’ve felt pretty consistent, especially the last couple games,” said the 22-year-old Bowmanville, ON native. “I think I’ve built some confidence and tried to play a little grittier and hungrier. It’s a good feeling, especially when the team’s doing well.”
The stat sheet reflects two goals and five assists for Bailey. Dig a little deeper and you will see where the confidence Bailey is talking about lays. He's finding himself in more situations on special teams, especially on the penalty kill.
|Josh Bailey controls the puck away from Brent Seabrook at Nassau Coliseum on December 8, 2011 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images) |
He's played 19:40 seconds on the penalty kill in the first 18 games this season, but has played 19:41 seconds shorthanded in the last eight games. In that span, the Isles have only allowed three power play goals on 25 opportunities, for an 88 percent success rate. Of those three shorthanded goals against, Bailey wasn’t on the ice for even one.
“I enjoy the penalty kill a lot, I take pride in it,” Bailey said. “The way it has been going lately, it’s been good and it’s a good way to stay in the game and nice to be depended on as well. When you go out for the PK, the team depends on you to do a good job and shut down the other team’s power play. It’s definitely nice to be depended on.”
Bailey has also had an increased role on the Islanders power play. In fact, in the first 18 games of the season, Bailey played an even 11 minutes on the power play, but he’s played 11:11 on the power play in the last eight games.
“There’s no question that he has the skill,” Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said of his third-line center. “He’s got the ability to puck protect real well. He’s got good vision and good hockey sense. He has that ability to make plays, there’s no question. I think the more that he’s playing and the more confidence that he gets, his overall game will pick up.”
|Thomas Vanek controls the puck while being defended by Josh Bailey at First Niagara Center on November 29, 2011. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images) |
Bailey said: “I’ve played power play all my life and it’s something I really enjoy doing. It’s been nice and a lot of fun to get out there make some good plays and move the puck around.”
His time on special teams has been a huge boost to the Islanders, however his faceoff win percentage has also drastically improved, winning 55.84 percent of his faceoffs in the last five games when he’d won just 44.39 percent of faceoffs in the 21 games prior. All that’s left is for the Isles center is to take his newfound confidence and put it to use with his high-quality shot, trusting that he can score some goals.
“The one thing I always say about Josh is he’s a crafty player, but there are just certain times where, and we talked to him quite a bit as a staff, getting a few more pucks to the net,” Capuano said. “Have that shooter mentality rather than that pass mentality, but overall I’m real happy with his work ethic over the last four weeks.”