New York Islanders Case Study of Anders Lee: The Setup
If there’s an apt metaphor for the New York Islanders season its, a terribly wonky roller coaster ride. With high highs and very low lows. No player is a better embodiment of this than Anders Lee.
Anders Lee is on fire. Since November 23rd the New York Islander winger has scored 12 goals. Second only to Sidney Crosby in the NHL.
It’s an incredible achievement. Before that, so from the start of the season to November 22nd, Anders Lee had two points. A goal in the Isles fourth game of the season on October 18th against the San Jose Sharks, and an assist in the game against the Vancouver Canucks back on November 7th.
Two points from 18 games and then he explodes for 15 points in the next 16 games. What in the world happened to Anders Lee?
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Did he sell his soul for the power of goals? Did he find a magic rabbit’s foot? What is Anders Lee doing differently to be this good? That’s what I’m going to try and find out over the next week.
It can’t just be as simple as, “he’s going to the dirty areas” or “he’s back in his office”. Or whatever or borderline ridiculous hockey talk you want to use.
There has to be something that drastically changed in the way Anders Lee is playing the game in order for him to be having a drastic turnaround in his season.
My focus is going to be on what Anders Lee was performing in a few categories leading up to November 23rd, and then how he’s performed from November 23rd onwards.
The categories I’ll be looking at are:
- Is Anders Lee just lucky?
- What has been his usage by Jack Capuano?
- Shot volumes and location
So is Lee just along for the ride and is doing nothing but being the recipient of good fortune? Is he just getting more ice-time and thus more opportunities to get the puck on net? Or is he just shooting it more and/or from better goal-scoring areas?
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Personally, and I have yet to pour over the data, it feels like Anders Lee is getting back to what makes him a good hockey player. He’s a big body with fantastic hand-eye coordination. Making him a perfect fit for that Wayne Simmonds type of role. But we’ll see over the next week whether I was right or not.