It’s hard to really put into perspective what Josh Bailey’s season has been. His 50 points through 42 games are just six off his full-season career high and, after 10 seasons and 681 games, is a first-time All Star.
With the new All-Star format that allows for 11 players from each division, it’s nearly impossible to sneak through the process as a second choice from one team. With John Tavares a mainstay All-Star selection, Bailey had to earn this one. Averaging 1.19 points per game (his career average is 0.52) will get that done.
“This is something they can’t take away from you,” Bailey said.
His current lower-body injury might have been something to detract from Bailey’s All-Star weekend, but Doug Weight said after Saturday’s 7-2 win over the Rangers that Bailey, who was injured on Jan. 5 against the Penguins, is likely to be the first of the Isles injured to return.
“Bails is probably the closest to get back,” Weight said. “Tuesday-Thursday hopefully, he’ll get on the ice pretty soon. Thankfully there’s no surgeries or anything like that, but they’re going to have to work to get back and they’ve been off the ice for a while now. Teams go through it. We did a great job today and hopefully we grow that confidence in the way we played.”
For Bailey, the trip to Tampa for the All-Star Game will not only be a special event, it’s a nice substitute for his missed family vacation this week. He had a Florida getaway planned during the Isles’ five-day bye, but he scrapped it to stay on Long Island and rehab his injury.
Dal Colle’s special day
Michael Dal Colle got to make his NHL debut in Madison Square Garden, which isn’t bad. It could’ve been in someone’s backyard pond and the 21-year-old forward would’ve been pumped.
“I think I lucked out having a game here, but if my first one was anywhere, I would’ve been excited,” he said. “You can’t really describe it. You dream of it since you were a kid but you can’t describe it. Just happy my family was able to be here to support me. Definitely going to be a memory to last a lifetime.”
Dal Colle played 13:33, including two regular turns with the second power-play unit. He only had one shot attempt that missed the net, but Weight was very pleased with the 2014 fifth overall pick’s debut, in which he played on the left side with Brock Nelson and Shane Prince, the latter of whom scored his first of the season in the opening period.
“I thought Michael was excellent, very stable, moved well and had a big hand in this win,” Weight said.
Leddy-Mayfield a decent pair
With Johnny Boychuk missing his seventh straight game and not close to returning, the search for a partner to help stabilize Nick Leddy’s game turned to Scott Mayfield on Saturday. If the Isles can get this same game from Leddy-Mayfield going forward, Weight and his staff may have found an answer to a nagging question.
Leddy was a plus-9 in shots for/against in the lopsided win, his 66.7 percent rating a promising development after a long stretch of poor possession numbers and even worse goal numbers — Leddy had been on the ice for seven goals for and a ridiculous 31 goals against at even strength since Dec. 1.
Leddy was on the ice for the Rangers’ lone five-on-five goal on Saturday, but that was a tough one — he was just exiting the penalty box in the third period when the Rangers cut the Isles lead to 5-2, and he had no time to get back in the play.
After trying Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech and Sebastian Aho with Leddy to varying results (mostly not great) during Boychuk’s absence, Mayfield could be there for a bit until Boychuk returns.