> The powerplay? Let's not talk about it.
> Josh Bailey's debut? Solid, 12 min. -- but where will this lead?
The Islanders controlled a good deal of the play on Veterans Day against the Flyers. But their inability to finish got them again. Martin Biron, who's been off to an ugly start, turned the Isles into slumpbusters with 35 saves. Still, the Islanders power play is what truly failed them: 0-8 and one shorthanded goal allowed in 11 minutes of PP time, including a wasted two-minute 5-on-3 that was followed by a Danny Briere goal. Game, set, match.
Silver linings? That's a tough one. There was Colin Powell for the opening faceoff and a great Veterans Day military pre-game service, which is something the franchise tends to do right. On the ice, Trent Hunter nabbed the only Islanders goal -- on a shot Biron should have stopped. Hunter continues a strong season toward re-establishing his secondary scoring role.
And there was Josh Bailey's NHL debut after missing the first 13 games of the season with injury. Bailey had two of the Islanders' four penalties -- including a costly late one from overexuberance (he high-sticked on an attempted stickcheck). But Scott Gordon showed enough faith in him to give him 12:35 of ice time -- 3:00 on the PP -- and have him on the ice for the final minute after his penalty expired.
"Josh looked like he belonged out there," said Gordon. "He started to look more comfortable as the game progressed."
I honestly don't know what to expect the Isles will do with Bailey. I think he ultimately belongs back in junior this year, preferably at the junior worlds, too. They shouldn't waste a year of cost-control and of alpha-player development in junior for the sake of this increasingly trying NHL season. But I'm fine with him getting a taste of the NHL first, particularly while the Islanders have three centers hurt.
The thing is, since training camp the Islanders have been consistently higher on Bailey than I expected: Putting him on the NHL roster despite playing only two preseason games, keeping him around after seven weeks of rehab and tossing him right into the NHL lineup (apparently, despite his age, the injury would have allowed him a brief AHL rehab stint).
Part of me fears they'll keep him here -- because they like him and he could hold his own, because they don't have a lot to otherwise excite fans with, and because they controversially traded down and passed on Filatov and Schenn to draft him.
If he can fill a significant role on the Islanders this season, that wouldn't be the worst thing. It just wouldn't be a prudent thing for the club's slow, long-term rebuild. Considering all the unknown variables that lie ahead (Tavares or Hedman? Several top-four pick salaries? Bigger investment in DiPietro's backup?), wasting a year of cost control -- and creating potential free agency and cap issues down the road -- doesn't look like the way to go.
But they have eight more games before completing that debate.