Anders Lee has been lighting the lamp at an almost unprecedented level for the New York Islanders lately. Did he find a lucky penny on Atlantic Ave.? This is part one of a three-part case study of what changed for Lee.
Anders Lee has 12 goals in his last 16 games, putting him on pace for another 36 goals by season’s end. Did any of us think that a New York Islanders player in 2016 not named John Tavares could have nearly 50 goals in a single season? I think not.
And that’s what make this so interesting. Anders Lee’s 50 goal pace isn’t sustainable, or at least it doesn’t seem like it is. But yet here he is scoring at an Alex Ovechkin rate. What the heck happened? This is still the same player that had a single goal in his first 17 games this season.
What changed for Anders Lee to go from the production levels of a fourth line plug to being on pace with one of the greatest players and pure goal scorers to ever play the game?
Is It All Because of Luck?
In this first part, I wanted to focus on luck. Was Anders Lee hitting a rich vein of luck? Is that all this really is? Just random dumb luck?
There’s always going to be a certain element of luck in hockey. It’s an inherently random game where anything is possible. Goals are in-and-of-themselves a random occurrence. All a player can do is try to increase their chances.
They can only control certain elements of the game in order to get themselves in the best possible situation to score a goal. Get open and get the puck on net. Are the two
To say there’s not been a single element of “puck luck” would be foolish. But to attribute Lee’s recent successes to fortunate bounces alone would be equally foolish. It’s not all about “puck luck”. Here’s lookin’ at you Jack Capuano!
But can we definitively say that Lee is the benefactor of a lucky streak? It’s possible. Just looking at his shooting percentage would certainly suggest that it’s the case.
Currently, Anders Lee is scoring on 19.2% of his shots, which is well above his average of 11.36% from his last three seasons. Heck, boil it down to pre-Nov. 23rd and post-Nov 23rd and Lee’s shooting percentage jumps from 3.3% (pre) to 30.2% (post).
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That’s a noticeable jump in his scoring rate over a relatively short time frame. But to be fair to Anders Lee. He’s been shooting a whole lot more, and getting a significantly higher percentage of those shots on net.
Before Nov. 23, Lee put 39 shots towards the net. Twenty-eight of those shots made it on net while eleven, or 28.2% missed wide or over the net. Oh, and one rang off the post.
After November 23rd, Lee’s shot output went up to 57. Forty-five were on net and the remaining 12, or 21.1% sailed wide in some fashion.
Remember how I said players can only control a few things in order to increase their chances of success?
We can agree that Anders Lee has been a tad lucky recently and that a 30% shooting percentage is not sustainable throughout the course of the season. But we can also say that he’s certainly giving himself the best possible chance by doing the simple things. Like just getting the puck on net.
Next time I want to go over Anders Lee’s shooting rates. Not just how many he put towards the net vs. not. But what types of shots is he taking? Where’s he taking those shots from?