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San Jose Sharks

Preview/Lines #33: Bailey’s ‘Infectious’ Effort Helping Him Find NHL Role

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Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

The San Jose Sharks looked dead in the water.

Down 4-0 in Denver on Sunday, just 3:44 into the second period, the Sharks needed a spark.

Enter Justin Bailey.

Right after a Nathan MacKinnon goal, down 17-7 shots, Bailey (90) tips in a Nikita Okhotiuk (83) pass. Alexander Georgiev plays it, hoping to give it to Jack Johnson (3). But Johnson, who tries to get in the forechecking Bailey’s path, can’t handle the speedy 6-foot-4 winger. Bailey beats Johnson to Georgiev, pressuring the goaltender into tossing it to the corner.

Tomas Hertl (48) is waiting to claim the turnover.

San Jose would lose 6-2, but it’s small plays like these that are keeping Bailey in the line-up.

There’s a reason why Bailey got the first look in the top-six on Sunday when Anthony Duclair got scratched.

“He’s a noticeable player every shift he’s out there,” San Jose Sharks head coach David Quinn said. “He’s big. He’s rangy. He skates. I just love his consistent effort.”

Despite the result, these effort plays aren’t all for naught. Because of Bailey’s hustle, the Sharks had three consecutive chances.

That combination of size, speed, and effort is making Bailey a fixture in this line-up. For the 28-year-old winger, who’s taken the long road here – he’s skated in 370 AHL games, almost four times his NHL resume – he might finally have found an NHL home. Bailey, who started training camp as a PTO, and then the regular season on a San Jose Barracuda contract, has a goal and four assists in 11 games since he signed a one-year contract with the Sharks on Nov. 27.

“Those guys see his effort, they see the tracking, the forechecking, the playing fast mentality that he has, and it’s infectious,” Quinn said. “If he continues to play like this, he certainly will be [here].”

San Jose Sharks (9-20-3)

Mackenzie Blackwood starts.

Here’s how the Sharks skated yesterday at practice.

Eklund-Hertl-Zadina
Duclair-Granlund-Zetterlund
Hoffman-Kunin-Bailey
Smith-Studnicka-Labanc

Conspicuously, Alexander Barabanov skated with Logan Couture and Ryan Carpenter, both who are still recovering from injury. So does that mean Barabanov will be scratched? Yesterday, Quinn said he would play.

Calen Addison (lower-body) and Jan Rutta (illness) participated in an optional morning skate, and the bench boss says they could be available tonight.

Arizona Coyotes (16-13-2)

Where to Watch

Puck drop between the San Jose Sharks and Arizona Coyotes is 7:30 PM PT at SAP Center. Watch it live on ESPN+/Hulu. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.

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