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Lambert Pushing the Right Buttons, Bailey and Beauvillier’s Bounce Back

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New York Islanders
Anthony Beauvillier celebrating with linemates after scoring the go-ahead goal against the Colorado Avalanche (Photo courtesy of New York Islanders Instagram)

First-year head coach Lane Lambert made some questionable decisions regarding his personnel management early this season as he tried to kickstart this New York Islanders team which seemed to be going any way but up. In the first game of a back-to-back situation down in Florida last weekend, Lambert decided to bench 15-year NHL veteran Josh Bailey against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The next night against the Florida Panthers, Anthony Beauvillier sat.

But a week later and three straight wins later, these decisions by Lane Lambert have not only paid off, but they’ve pushed the right buttons with these two forwards, who have impressed.

READ MORE: Islanders Streaking, What’s Changed Over Last Three Games?

After a disastrous loss to the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 20, a 4-1 debacle where his club’s effort was in question, Josh Bailey, who sat just two games from his 1,000-game milestone, found himself a healthy scratch. It was just the fourth time in seven years that he had been a healthy scratch.

Nikita Soshnikov, a 28-year-old speedster, played in his place and had a brutal showing.

After the game, Lambert shared why he made the switch.

“We just needed to get a spark, and it was a good opportunity to put Soshnikov in the lineup,” Lambert said. As for why Lambert chose Bailey, he said that it wasn’t about anything Bailey had done.

The next game, when the New York Islanders took on the Florida Panthers, Josh Bailey found himself on the first line alongside Mathew Barzal.

It was a losing effort, a 3-2 loss, but Josh Bailey fired four shots on goal and looked a bit better than he had to start the season.

Lambert left Bailey on the top line for career game no. 999, alongside Mathew Barzal and newly added Oliver Wahlstrom. And against the arch-rival New York Rangers, Bailey scored his first goal of the season in a 3-0 win.

Then against the elite Carolina Hurricanes, career-game 1,000, Josh Bailey scored yet again after a few nifty moves in the slot for his second goal in as many games.

Against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche, Bailey did not continue his point streak but did have two shots on goal, two high-danger chances, and a steal as the organization honored his milestone in their first game back at home.

New York Islanders Honor Josh Bailey’s 1,000th Game Milestone

Josh Bailey is not usually a guy who pads the stat sheets, but he is one that certainly can rack up assists. Playing with a playmaker in Mathew Barzal and a goal scorer in Oliver Wahlstrom, Bailey will be given more looks on goal than he has in years past. It’s about consistently making plays, which was an issue for him during the 2022-23 season.

But since being sat, Bailey has responded.

Now to Anthony Beauvillier.

During the 2021-22 season, former head coach Barry Trotz sat down Anthony Beauvillier in an early-season contest against the New Jersey Devils. Upon his return, the top-six forward found himself on the fourth line, as Trotz wanted to see him get back to the basics.

While he did respond, playing a much stronger brand of hockey, Beauvillier never really got going until he was placed on a line with Brock Nelson and Anders Lee in the second half of the season.

Early on in 2022-23, Lambert did not see enough out of Beauvillier, despite two goals and an assist through the Islanders’ first three games. Even after scoring his second goal of the season against the Tampa Bay Lightning on a solid individual effort, Beauvillier found himself a healthy scratch the next night.

“Coach’s decision,” is what Lane Lambert told the media.

After last Wednesday’s morning skate ahead of the contest against the Rangers, Lambert spoke on what he wanted to see from Beauvillier if he was back in the lineup: “If he’s back in, I want to see him using his speed, and I want to see him competing. And he will. I know he will when he gets back in.”

Anthony Beauvillier was indeed back in the lineup for the New York Islanders and throughout this three-game winning streak, Beauvillier has three points.

After being held off the stat sheet in the win over the Rangers, despite using his wheels, Beauvillier made two strong passes to Brock Nelson against the Carolina Hurricanes, leading to Nelson’s first two goals of the season.

Against the Colorado Avalanche, after the New York Islanders tied the contest at three after trailing by as many, Beauvillier sniped Avalanche netminder Alexandar Georgiev short side as the Islanders came all the way back, eventually winning by a score of 5-4.

The UBS Arena crowd was as loud as its ever been since opening their doors last season when Beauvillier potted that one, just 17 seconds after Scott Mayfield had tied the contest.

Following the win, NYI Hockey Now asked Beauvillier about his performance since being scratched.

“Playing good hockey right now and feeling good about my game,” Anthony Beauviller said. “I feel like our lines have been doing some good things out there, getting good pucks and working hard, so I mean, [you] can save points or whatnot…I just want to play well, just make a positive difference for my teammates and help the team to win as much as I can.”

As for what Lambert had seen from Beauvillier since he scratched him: “I think he’s using his speed. He’s tenacious on pucks. And, you know, he made two great plays last night, and obviously a huge goal tonight. So, you know, he has that ability offensively, and he’s helping us in that in that regard for sure.”

For both Josh Bailey and Anthony Beauvillier, the message by Lane Lambert was clear. They both knew they had more to give and now have played integral roles in the New York Islanders’ early season turnaround.

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