Questions still remain this year about how the Islanders can be a more offensive team. At this juncture, the Isles rank in the bottom-five of the league in goals for per game, 26th to be exact. Despite those disappointing numbers, the team has a winning record (9-6-3) and are right in the thick of the hunt for the top four spots in the East Division.
One of the reasons they do find themselves in such position has been the excellent season thus far from captain Anders Lee.
Lee, 30, has been one of the club’s best forwards outside Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle. He’s scored four goals in the last five games which has brought his total up to team-leading eight on the season. His 11 points have him in a three-way tie for second among forwards with Eberle and J.G. Pageau. More importantly, his overall game has looked ten-times better than at any point we saw a year ago.
“He’s made the adjustments just like a true leader. He listens and figures out a way to get it done,” head coach Barry Trotz told the media after yesterday’s practice.
Lee rebounding the way he has this season was something that the Islanders were going to desperately need after his quiet regular season in 2019-20; he did score 20 goals but it didn’t have the same impact as years prior. Lee came around in the bubble during the playoffs, but there was still a lot left to be desired. There was also the added pressure after g.m. Lou Lamoriello failed to add another forward in the offseason to inject some more scoring punch.
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) February 17, 2021
It seems Lee has taken that mantle and run with it, and it’s been a big lift to the Isles through 18 games. He’s also gotten the job done both at even strength and on the power play. And once again, he’s using his scoring touch — which not too long ago led to 74 goals over two seasons — and also using his frame to get his chances in the dirty areas, a staple of his during his career.
Lee’s performance to this point is definitely an encouraging sign for those who have pointed to the Isles’ aging offensive core. He’s one of six forwards on the team that’s already over 30. But age looks like it’s been just a number with how Lee is skating — which he known to be a slow skater — and his consistency.
The Islanders still have a long way to go in this shortened season, but the contributions they received from Anders Lee have provided a nice uplift in what has been an up-and-down campaign.
He’s looked rejuvenated and is playing with the purpose of a legit offensive threat again.
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