Islanders' Josh Bailey getting good look at wing, but ready to switch on a moment's notice

Buffalo Sabres' Thomas Vanek, left, keeps the puck Buffalo Sabres' Thomas Vanek, left, keeps the puck away from Islanders' Josh Bailey during the third period. (Feb. 9, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The Islanders' struggling offense was looking for a lift Saturday night with the return of Josh Bailey.

After injuring his knee in the offseason, the center made his season debut at left wing on the fourth line with Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas.

"Before you know it, he could be playing on other lines, too," coach Jack Capuano said. "He'll get some time on the penalty kill as well."

"These games felt like they went by pretty slow," Bailey said. "I've played a lot with Matty, not much with Cizikas, but I'm happy to be back on the wing as well."

Despite being drafted as a center and struggling to find his comfort zone, including being sent down to Bridgeport two seasons ago, Bailey might have found his niche on the wing. Saturday night, he had seven shots in 12:48 of ice time, including 1:16 on the power play.

"When we put him down in Bridgeport for a couple weeks, he took some faceoffs down there; he played the wing a little bit," Capuano said. "He had success on the wing, so that's where we're going to play him."

Bailey has settled into his role out wide, with 13 goals and 19 assists last season in 80 games.

"At the end of last year, we had a talk, we looked at the stats and they showed for themselves that the wing seemed like a better fit for me at the time," Bailey said. "I'm just looking forward to whatever role they give me."

With the team having scored only three goals in the previous four games, Capuano has no reservations about shaking things up in order to inject Bailey's talent.

"If we get into a bind, we could see him [at center]," Capuano said. "He's got the good playmaking ability where he could be a centerman, but for whatever reason, he feels more comfortable on the wing and he's had some success there . . . But we can't wait long if things aren't going well offensively."

Bailey said of possibly being needed elsewhere: "If a centerman were to go down -- hopefully that doesn't happen -- they know they can have me at center, as well," he said.

You also may be interested in: