How does Justin Bailey translate his hot streak in the AHL into production with the Sabres? It's going to be about the details.
"Everybody knows I'm fast and I'm big and I can score goals," Bailey said Friday after joining the Sabres for practice in HarborCenter. "That needs to translate here. From the top down, I'm being more detailed in practice to translate into the game. For me, that's building confidence early, playing simple in the first 10 minutes of the game. Once I'm confident playing fast, I'll be able to go do my thing."
Bailey will be in the lineup for the Sabres Saturday afternoon in Boston as William Carrier will miss the game because he aggravated an injured hand in a fight Thursday night with Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid.
Bailey has played 10 NHL games the last two seasons and has not recorded a point -- but has 33 goals and 67 points in that span with the Rochester Amerks (See career stats here). The Williamsville native has found some chemistry with fellow Western New York native Tim Kennedy and has 13 goals and 22 points in 31 games for Rochester.
But at least initially, it seems Bailey is not going to get top-line minutes in Buffalo. He practiced Friday on the fourth line, in Carrier's spot with Derek Grant and Nicolas Deslauriers. Coach Dan Bylsma is hoping to see the kind of production Bailey put forth in his NHL debut last year in Philadelphia, when he collected seven shots on goal.
"You just go back to his game against Philly last year to see what type of player he can be and where he can add," Bylsma said. "Even today in our 5-on-5 portion of our drills, the speed he's attacking the defensemen with and chasing the puck down is dangerous. He's got some great speed down the ice and that's where he's got to be effective for us.
"That could be on any line. It could be on the fourth line or it could be next to Jack (Eichel) for a portion of the time. That's something he has to earn with his play."
Bailey was one of the team's first cuts in training camp. Then he was called up for two pointless games earlier this season and was quickly sent back to the AHL and swapped for Carrier.
"Both of those were disappointments but I've been itching to get back up here like all guys down in Rochester are," Bailey said. "For me, when I got my first call-up last year that was great and it was a milestone but every time I come up here I want to stay as long as I can. I want to do all the things that got me sent down and show them I can do that."
In other injury news, Bylsma said Dmitry Kulikov (back) remains out of the lineup and won't make the trip to Boston. Cody Franson, who had missed the previous three games, returned Thursday in Kulikov's spot.