The prodigal son returns today when former Providence Bruins (AHL) bench boss and Easton, Mass., native Scott Gordon, in his first year as an NHL head coach, brings his youthful New York Islanders to TD Banknorth Garden.

Gordon and his Isles visited the Hub in the preseason, but this will be a true test of his coaching mettle and his team’s improvement — as the Bruins will look to bounce back after Buffalo snapped their four-game winning streak and the Isles had won two in a row before blowing a second-period lead against Pittsburgh Wednesday.

Player to watch: The Bruins are obviously proud of their young talent, and the Islanders will have some of theirs on display today. Among the New York prospects who’ll be darting around the ice will be 2008 first-round pick (ninth overall) Josh Bailey. The 19-year-old started the year on injured reserve, but he made his NHL debut Nov. 11 and he’s now on a three-game point-scoring streak (0-4-4 over that time).

Quotable: Bruins rookie defenseman Matt Hunwick is one of the many Bruins who learned under Gordon with Providence. He’s interested to see how far the Isles have come since the beginning of the Gordon era in the preseason.

“Their overall game plan is to be aggressive and work hard and skate hard. That’ll be something,” Hunwick told me this week. “It’ll be good for us, a few of us knowing his style and what’s going on, so we have an idea how to counteract that. But it’ll be good to see how far their team has come along. I saw that at the beginning of the year they weren’t doing great. Now they’ve kind of stepped it up. It’s always good to see someone that you know doing well. It’ll be interesting to see how far they’ve come.”