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With Players Out, Islander Veterans Showcased Their Importance



New York Islanders, Josh Bailey

The New York Islanders saw a plethora of contributors in their latest victory over the Buffalo Sabres. We looked at the play of Mat Barzal in the Rapid Reaction and the play of Kieffer Bellows and Noah Dobson in the three takeaways.

But I would be remiss not to discuss the play of some veterans who helped contribute to the win.

3 Takeaways: Confidence Brewing in Latest Win Over Buffalo

Josh Bailey Does What He Does Best

Early on this season, Josh Bailey seemed more like a passenger for the New York Islanders. Yes, he picked up a few assists here and there, but the veteran, like many of the team, had not played to the level they were capable of.

In the win on Thursday, Bailey looked more like the playmaker we have come to see as he notched two assists.

His first assist allowed the Islanders to get on the board first, as Bailey decisively fed Barzal creeping into the slot on a rush.

Nothing flashy from Bailey, just an intelligent hockey play that got the Islanders rolling.

His second assist came on Dobson’s goal, the fourth of the contest for the Islanders.

These types of players are what the Islanders are looking for from Bailey. Keeping it simple has done the trick for Bailey in the past, and it paid off in Thursday’s win.

He picked up these two points with a shot in 16:27 minutes.

Bailey now has four assists in his last five games with those two assists.

Pelech Providing Prestigious Defensive Play

There is no question that Adam Pelech is the Islanders’ premier defenseman. He has averaged 21:37 minutes per night this season and, in the win on Thursday, played a total of 19:36, a lighter workload than usual.

And although the Islanders did not make too many mistakes Thursday night, Pelech seemed to be there every time to clean them up.

Mayfield stepped up at the Buffalo blue-line in the first period, which led to an odd-man rush the other way. But Pelech was there and was able to break it up. Time and time again, Pelech stood tall at his own blue line to poke pucks off the stick of Buffalo forwards.

It was like clockwork.

Pelech was credited with two takeaways in the contest, but that number does not account for the countless plays he made to help lock down the victory.

With key players out on offense, the defense had to stand tall, and Pelech stepped up.

Parise Playing Hard Regardless of Linemates

Like a Jean-Gabriel Pageau, the work ethic of Zach Parise does not change regardless of his linemates. In Thursday’s win, his first day back following a stay in COVID-19 protocol, he was energized from the start. Even at morning skate, Parise had this aura of energy around him during each drill.

He played alongside two taxi squad activees in Austin Czarnik and Ross Johnston.

Islanders head coach Barry Trotz knew he could rely on the 37-year old veteran to play alongside the two depth players. There is a trust there, a trust that has to be earned and a trust that has been earned over his short time on the island.

And while this line was more of a “go in, get pucks deep, change” kind of line throughout the contest, Parise did what was asked. He forechecked hard, pressuring the Buffalo defenseman any chance he could.

He played minutes on both special teams, and despite being on for the power-play goal against with a minute to go in the first, he shook it off like the rest of his team in the solid win.

Parise picked up two shots and a face-off win in 14:45 minutes.

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