It was maybe 15 minutes into yesterday's practice when the Islanders' Josh Bailey reared back for a shot. It sailed high over the left shoulder of reserve goalie Jean-Francois Berube and struck a pane of Plexiglas, shattering it into tiny pieces and breaking through.
Bailey has been breaking through, too, and it appears coach Jack Capuano is inclined to start playing him more minutes on the same line with star John Tavares. He did it more in Monday's win over Calgary than he had been doing and they were teamed together with Anders Lee in yesterday's workout. It would not be a surprise to see that trio Thursday night when the Islanders face Carolina at the Barclays Center.
"They've had success. He's a smart hockey player and he reads off Johnny pretty well," Capuano said of Bailey.
Time and location could also be factors in which Isles are on the ice with Tavares.
"With Johnny, you're going to see a combination of guys that played with him in the past. It's not going to be a set thing," Capuano added. "Especially when we go on the road, he might have some veteran guys with him. Today I had Lee and Bailey there, too. We just moved some of those guys around to get an idea of what the opposition has, what the matchups we're going to have, especially at home where we get the last change."
"We played good amounts together last year. His ability to see the ice and really give and go [makes us] hard to defend that way," Tavares said. "When you can move the puck, hit open ice and find spaces -- being able to play like that and read off one another -- it's really hard to defend and creates a lot of opportunities. We've had some success. It's fun playing with him."
"The success we've had together is in large part due to him," Bailey said. "When you get into a scoring area, he's going to find you."
The Islanders are rolling as the Hurricanes come to Brooklyn, with six wins in their last seven games. They've scored a power-play goal in three straight contests and their penalty killing has been very effective. Tavares said he's been more proud of the group's resilience.
"I don't think we've played our best or at the top of our game yet . . . We've just handled adversity well. We don't let anything bug us," he said. "We didn't play very well Friday [losing against Boston] at all, then went into a tough place to win in St. Louis against a good team. We had to travel while they were rested and we found a way to win and played a pretty good hockey game. The way you handle those challenges and taking them with the right attitude is [how] a team overcomes those things.
Notes & quotes:Capuano confirmed that Thomas Hickey will be out at least "three to four weeks" with a lower-body injury. He said that he and GM Garth Snow are expected to discuss whether to add a defenseman in the near future, especially with three games in the next four days. "We've got six healthy here right now," Capuano said. "As we start to play more games and we start to travel, I'm sure our numbers will increase." . . . Frans Nielsen took a maintenance day and is expected to play Thursday night.