Islanders forwards Josh Bailey
and Blake Comeau have been playing on a line together for the last three seasons. Now, heading into their fourth year together, Comeau will switch sides to play on his natural wing, allowing for the left-side addition of veteran Brian Rolston’s debilitating slapshot.
|Bailey scores against the Rangers on Oct. 11, 2010. |
Bailey’s 11 goals and 17 assists in 70 games weren’t the numbers he was hoping for in his third-year pro. Thus, after signing a two-year deal hours before training camp opened Sept. 16, he will be looking to take more shots this year.
“For me, being more of a passer, I think it’s what you want, two guys with absolute bombs for a shot,” Bailey said. “I think I’ll be trying to set them up, although this year, I want to focus on getting more shots of my own. I think that will benefit the whole line. I’ll have a shooting mentality and with guys going to the net, I think we’ll put some goals in the back of the net.”
In 77 games last season, Comeau had his best year to date, scoring 24 goals and 22 assists for 46 points. Though he’ll be switching sides this year, he’s played that position before. Having Bailey remain a constant down the middle also helps the transition back to his natural side.
“I’ve played both wings my whole life, so I’m comfortable obviously on my regular wing and my off-wing,” Comeau said. “I guess the biggest difference is coming into the offensive zone on my right side, but I’m comfortable on the right side, so to me it’s not a big change.”
He added, “Me and Josh have a good chemistry playing with each other. We know how each other play and where each other are. Obviously, Rolston is a big addition on our line with the big shot that he has. We’re all guys that can shoot and make plays and we just have to talk to each other and try to get that chemistry going right away.”
While these guys are ready to get the season started, they’ve had a solid week of practice after the five exhibitions of the 2011 preseason. Rather than an up-beat tempo, lots of the practices were slowed down to concentrate on systems.
“We had a lot of skating and one-on-one during camp,” Comeau said. “Last week was making sure everyone is on the same page with systems so when you get out there during games you’re not thinking about what you have to do. It’s just routine and you know what you have to do and where you have to be.”
Needless to say, they’ve been chomping at the bit to get the season going.
Me and Josh have a good chemistry playing with each other. We know how each other play and where each other are." - Blake Comeau
“Training camp felt a little longer than it actually was,” Comeau said. “So you can feel the excitement in the room and I obviously think it’s going to be a good atmosphere in our home opener.”
Bailey added, “I played four games, so I feel pretty ready to go. I think everyone does, but playing those extra games helped break camp up a little bit. Some guys only played two-three games, so that made for a longer camp for them with more practice. I think everyone equally feels ready to go and get the ball rolling here.”