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Bailey hopes to bring speed vs. Golden Knights

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Justin Bailey was lucky enough to avoid the injury bug during his first two professional seasons. In this, his third season, the injuries have all seemed to hit at once. Bailey missed a chunk of his season in Rochester with a high-ankle sprain, then missed more time with an upper-body injury.

He worked his way back, though, with the goal of getting another chance in Buffalo before the end of the season. He'll have that opportunity when the Sabres host the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday afternoon. 

Bailey played seven games for the Sabres in October, scoring two goals and an assist. Phil Housley said he'd like to see more of the same against the Golden Knights. 

"I really liked the way he was using his speed on the forecheck," Housley said. "He scored his first game in Anaheim way back early in the season. I think the next game we got home, he had a nice goal driving to the net. He's just got to use his speed on the forecheck and get to the net. He's a big kid."

Video: Game Preview vs. Vegas

Last season, Bailey scored a career-high 23 goals for Rochester despite appearing in just 52 AHL games (he played 32 games for Buffalo). His production dipped this season as a result of his injuries - he has 10 points (6+4) in 27 games - but he scored five points in his last five contests prior to being recalled on Friday. What changed?

"I think just getting rid of bad habits that I had," Bailey said. "When you miss time like that, you forget how to play the right way a little bit. Just doing the right things, using my speed, using my size and making sure I was hard on the forecheck and letting my skill do the rest."

Bailey will step into the lineup in place of Kyle Okposo, who is out indefinitely after sustaining a concussion in Ottawa on Thursday. Nathan Beaulieu - a healthy scratch in Ottawa - will replace Justin Falk on defense. 

Robin Lehner will start in net for the Sabres, coming off a 38-save performance in the shootout win over the Senators. 

The Golden Knights lead the Pacific Division with 91 points this season. Their 19 road wins rank third in the NHL.

Video: Phil Housley: Pregame (3/10/18)

"You have to be ready against this team," Housley said. "They have 19 road wins and they're playing pretty good hockey right now. They use their speed. They're a quick-strike transition team. We're going to have to manage the puck through the neutral zone and when we're at our best we're getting pucks deep and we're on the forecheck and we're physical. That's our message."

Coverage on MSG-B begins at 12:30 p.m., or you can listen live on WGR 550. Puck drop is scheduled for 1. 

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