New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils

Only a matter of time? Josh Bailey hasn’t even considered a holdout

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There are plenty of different types of contract negotiations in the NHL. Some contracts are worked out quickly while others can take over a year to work out the details. Some negotiations are civil and sometimes the discussions can get personal. Each situation has a different cast of characters—from the player, to his agent, to the general manager working to fill his team. Accordingly, each negotiation tends to take on a life of it’s own.

Despite Josh Bailey’s contract talks coming down to the wire, it sounds like everything has been civilized within the talks. Bailey reiterated today that he has no intention of holding out and is confident that a deal will be completed before training camp starts.

Here’s what Bailey had to say to Katie Strang at Newsday:

“Me and Snowy have always had a great relationship and I’ve always only had the intentions of playing here. This is home, this is where I wanna be, so I have faith that [agent Pat Morris] and Garth can find common ground.”

As far as player comments go in the midst of negotiations, Islanders fans have to be happy with Bailey’s comments. The only way it his positive statement could have been better is if he said, “I signed this morning.” He wants it to get done and the team wants it to get done. It certainly sounds like it’s only a matter of time before the two sides reach an agreement.

Just because he hasn’t been under contract doesn’t mean he hasn’t been preparing for the season. The 21-year-old has specific goals for improving next season and taking the step from young prospect to bona fide NHL contributor. Bailey told the Islanders official site that he’s been working throughout the offseason to ensure he’s ready for the long NHL regular season:

“I want to be more consistent. I think there were some things I was happy with and definitely some things I want to improve on. I’ve changed my training this offseason and came in with a different mindset. I’ve gotten quicker and lost a little bit of weight, trimmed down to be leaner, but more muscular.”

Consistency will be key if Bailey expects to take the next step in his career. The Bowmanville, ON native managed 28 points in 70 games last season. The 11 goals and 28 points both represented minor setbacks from the 2009-10 season—even more so from an organization hoping to see him grow into his spot in the NHL. Surely, it didn’t help his NHL statistics that he was sent down to Bridgeport for 11 games last season either.

The tour of duty in the AHL may have been exactly what he needed to get his confidence back though. Remember, this is a guy who was drafted 8th overall in the 2008 Entry Draft before being rushed to the NHL. He had 96 points in his final season in the Ontario Hockey League—so the kid can score. Perhaps he needed a few weeks in the AHL as a reminder that he’s a talented player who can produce points when called upon.

Bailey is the quintessential example of a player who is in line for a “second contract.” The team still believes that he has the talent to grow into a good NHLer. But to this point, he hasn’t earned a contract that would be equal to his potential. A two-year contract would buy the Islanders an opportunity to see what Bailey can do and would give the player a couple more years to prove his worth.

From the sounds of it, it’s only a matter of time before both sides reach an amicable decision.

Hitch’s recipe for more goals is a pretty simple one

Ken Hitchcock, David Backes, Dmitrij Jaskin, Paul Stastny, Patrik Berglund
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Ken Hitchcock wants the Blues to spend more time attacking and less time defending.

Because hockey isn’t rocket science, that’s why.

“To score and win games in the National Hockey League…you have to spend as much time in the offensive zone as you can,” Hitchcock told the Post-Dispatch.

“When you’re occupying the offensive zone more, you’re forechecking more. When you’re occupying the offensive zone more, the goalie has to make saves. They’re having to defend more. And the opposing team takes penalties on you. So they’re all connected. … What I want to see from us is staying on the puck for longer stretches.”

According to the stats, the Blues have not been spending as much time in the offensive zone as we’re used to seeing from them. In fact, in their last 20 games, they rank in the bottom third of the league in score-adjusted Corsi. That compares to their first 20 games when they were in the top third.

The result is fewer shots, and more importantly, fewer goals. The Blues have fallen all the way to 25th in offense, averaging just 2.37 goals per game. Last year, they finished fifth (2.91).

Yes, some of that may be due to the absence of Jaden Schwartz, and he should be back soon. But there’s a reason people are watching GM Doug Armstrong as the Feb. 29 trade deadline approaches. This team could probably use another piece up front.

The Blues host Minnesota Saturday.

St. Louis has scored just five goals in its last five games.

Goalie nods: Lindback ‘really excited’ for first start in almost three weeks

Anders Lindback
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Tonight in Anaheim, Anders Lindback will make his first start for the Arizona Coyotes since Jan. 16.

The Coyotes have been riding rookie Louis Domingue since just before Christmas, but Domingue has allowed five goals in each of his last three starts, including last night’s 5-4 loss to Chicago.

Lindback’s last appearance came Tuesday in relief, when he allowed one goal on 10 shots in a 6-2 loss to the Kings.

Lindback was in goal for one of Arizona’s three victories this season over Anaheim, stopping 33 of 36 shots in a 4-3 overtime win on Nov. 9. However, his .896 save percentage ranks among the lowest in the league.

Frederik Andersen is expected to start for the Ducks.

Elsewhere…

— No word yet on a Penguins starter in Tampa, but Ben Bishop will go for the Bolts.

Cam Ward will start for the Hurricanes in Winnipeg, where Connor Hellebuyck is expected for the increasingly desperate Jets.

— Joonas Korpisalo was solid last night in Vancouver, but the Blue Jackets have not announced their starter for tonight’s game in Calgary. Karri Ramo will be in goal for the Flames.

A ‘pretty solid two-way player,’ Sundqvist to make NHL debut for Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins' Oskar Sundqvist (49) collides with Minnesota Wild's Jason Zucker (16) in the first period of a NHL preseason hockey game in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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The latest Penguins injuries, these ones to Evgeni Malkin and Eric Fehr, have led to an opportunity for Oskar Sundqvist.

Sundqvist will make his NHL debut for the Penguins tonight in Tampa. The 21-year-old center has five goals and 11 assists in 39 AHL games this season.

“Sunny’s a pretty solid two-way player,” coach Mike Sullivan said, per the Tribune-Review.

“I don’t think he’s going to dazzle you with flashy plays, but I think he’s a guy who plays the game the right way. He’s hard to play against because of his size. He’s got a long reach, and he’s got a good stick.”

Sundqvist was selected 81st overall by the Pens in 2012. He’ll become the fourth player out of that Pittsburgh draft class to make his NHL debut, after Olli Maatta, Derrick Pouliot, and Matt Murray.

Veteran Matt Cullen will replace Malkin on the second line, skating with wingers Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel.

Related: Nick Bonino out ‘at least a month’ with hand injury

John Scott’s wife gives birth to twin girls

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As if John Scott wasn’t already having a great week, now he’s the proud father of twin girls.

The Montreal Canadiens shared the good news via their Twitter account today.

Scott, the unlikely 2016 All-Star Game MVP, is currently back home in Michigan; however, he’s expected to resume his career at some point with Montreal’s AHL affiliate in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

When, exactly, he suits up for the IceCaps remains to be seen, but it won’t be tonight or tomorrow.

Related: Therrien on Canadiens possibly recalling John Scott: ‘You never know’