The New York Islanders dropped their second straight game on Friday night. Despite generating chances, 49 shots on Nashville Predators netminder Kevin Lankinen, the result was a 4-1 loss at UBS Arena.
With two new players on the roster as of Thursday morning, Hudson Fasching and Cole Bardreau, Lambert had options.
Based on the lines on Thursday, if Bailey could not go, it appeared that Fasching would skate in his spot on the third line while Ross Johnston would be filling in for Cal Clutterbuck in the right-wing spot on the fourth line.
Bardreau skated as an extra, so the expectation is that he would be a healthy scratch for Friday’s game.
When warmups came and went, Bailey was in the lineup skating alongside Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Zach Parise, but Lambert decided not to go with Johnston on the fourth line.
Instead, Bardreau skated alongside Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas.
If you remember, the last time the Islanders played Nashville, a 5-4 loss on Nov. 17, Lambert scratched Bailey for “matchup purposes,” using Johnston in a top-nine role due to his physicality.
Then halfway through the game, Johnston was taken out of the rotation because the Islanders needed offense.
With bodies on the mend, Lambert could have had both Johnston and Bailey in, but here’s why Bardreau got the chance on the fourth line:
“We wanted more of a right winger, right shot,” Lambert said.
More on Bardreau’s performance in a few.
In his return to the lineup, Bailey played 13:43 with two shots and a giveaway.
At one point, he was demoted to the fourth line, with Martin taking shifts on the third.
That was short-lived before Bailey was back on the third
Back to Bardreau.
Unfortunately for the 29-year-old winger, Bardreau’s night did not go as planned, as he took a costly penalty in the first period, which led to the Predators first goal of the game.
He finished the contest with six minutes played and a few hits.
“I mean, anytime I take a penalty being on the fourth line with limited minutes, it just, it just can’t happen whether it’s weak or not,” Bardreau told NYI Hockey Now.” So yeah, obviously kicking my head there….”
After Bardreau came out of the box, with 5:42 to go in the first, he did not get a shift for the remainder of the period.
Lambert has held his players accountable this season, whether it be scratching everyday players or taking players out of the rotation during games.
Bardreau understood the benching and spoke about what that says about how the team views Lambert.
“I mean, just even being around for a couple of days here, you can see the respect he commands, and I can tell that the guys really love him and want to go to war for him,” Bardreau said. “Obviously, you need that on a day-in, day-out basis.”
“And when you gotta hold guys accountable, you gotta hold guys accountable.”
The Islanders have now lost two straight and find themselves at 15-10-0, with their next matchup coming against a Chicago Blackhawks (6-12-4) team located in the basement of the NHL.
Lambert is holding a practice Saturday afternoon, and we shall see if there are any more positive updates on the injury front.