New York Islanders
Islanders Practice: Lambert Reunites a Duo, Bailey Off ‘Top’ Line
EAST MEADOW, NY — After an off day on Wednesday following a 3-2 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators, the New York Islanders were back on the practice sheet Thursday morning.
They were without Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who was placed on Injury Reserve (retro Feb. 11) with an upper-body injury. Veteran forward Andy Andreoff was recalled from Bridgeport.
In Tuesday’s loss, Josh Bailey did not play the final 10:10 of regulation and the entirety overtime frame, as Islanders head coach Lane Lambert benched him, along with Otto Koivula and Simon Holmstrom.
Bailey found himself lower in the depth chart when the Islanders ran lines:
Anders Lee-Bo Horvat-Mathew Barzal
Zach Parise-Brock Nelson-Kyle Palmieri
Josh Bailey-Caset Cizikas-Simon Holmstrom
Matt Martin-Andy Andreoff-Hudson Fasching
Adam Pelech-Ryan Pulock
Alexander Romanov-Scott Mayfield
Sebastian Aho-Noah Dobson
“I think I bring some low work, some corner work, some stuff in front of net,” Lee said about playing with Barzal and Horvat. “I can win some battles and get them the puck, and that’s usually the job I play on these lines and get open for them to get a shot and have an opportunity to bury it.”
“These two guys are extremely skilled, and you know how Barzal can find a guy, so it’s just trying to find the space, get open for him, and also do some dirty work.”
As for Mat Barzal, he knows what Lee brings, having been a duo for a handful of years under Barry Trotz.
“We know what his game is, so he’s going to work hard. I think him and Bo are gonna be beast down low,” Barzal said.
Lee and Horvat play a similar net-front game, but Horvat shared that their styles shouldn’t be an issue.
“I think we can just kind of read off each other. If I see them majority of the time in front of the net, that means I get to be off to the side or funnel pucks in the net for him,” Horvat said. “So again, just making those reads and making sure we’re not both going to get boxed out in front or something like that.
“So as long as one of us is open, it’s going to be good.”
As for the power play at practice, Andreoff was in Pageau’s spot as the net-front presence on the second unit. Koivula fill that role Tuesday night.
Not only did Lambert remove Bailey from Horvat’s wing, but he also placed Parise with Brock Nelson and Kyle Palmieri. The two wingers have played together often over Parise’s time with the Islanders, flanking Pageau earlier this season before Palmieri’s injury.
“Kyle’s been playing really well since he came back from injury. And Brock’s just Brock. He always plays at a really high level, so easy guys to play with, and hopefully, we’ll make it stick,” Parise told NYI Hockey Now.”
When Parise was with Pageau and Holmstrom, their role was to shut down the opposition, take the defensive draws. But now, with Parise up on a more offensive-based line, does that change his game?
“When you’re playing with Jean-Gabriel Pageau like our job was, we took a lot of defensive-zone jobs, and it was great,” Parise said. “That was our job, so now it’s kind of flip-flops playing with those guys.”
“And I know that both those guys like to shoot the puck a lot. So he gets it to then net, get the rebounds, and getting pucks in good positions.”
Lambert, following the skate, did not have an update on how long he expects to be without Pageau. He also stated that Bailey wasn’t demoted in his eyes.
“You move certain people around […] There’s no demotion, so to speak, or anything like that,” Lambert said. “His value is his value, and he’s very valuable in all different situations.”
The New York slanders are back in action Friday night as they host the Pittsburgh Penguins, who sit in the top wild-card spot with a two-point lead over New York and four games in hand.