Islanders Need Anders Lee To Come Alive In Washington Series

Anders Lee #27 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Anders Lee #27 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Islanders got a quiet series from their captain against the Panthers, they really need him to come alive against Washington.

While the Islanders beat the Florida Panthers in four games, they received excellent play from their middle six. Anthony Beauvillier and JG Pageau carried the team in the Qualifying Round from an offensive standpoint.

As for the top line, Mathew Barzal was dormant for most of the series before coming alive in Game 4 and Jordan Eberle had a dominant Game 3 and was quiet for the other three games.

The one player who didn’t do much of anything on that line was Anders Lee. In four games Lee didn’t register a point in 17:19 per game. To his credit, he came up with a good screen on Sergei Bobrovsky for one of Jordan Eberle’s goals but that was essentially the extent of his assistance to the offense.

In year one of a seven-year deal, Lee had 43 points (20 goals, 23 assists) in 68 games. Paced out over 82 that’s a pace of 52 points and 24 goals.

While I don’t expect Lee to be a 40 goal scorer, which is fine, the expectation for Lee should be in the high 20’s at least in goals for the foreseeable future.

Yes, Lee is a good leader and he does other things besides scoring goals but to say you were disappointed with his play in the qualifier I think is more than fair. Now, conversely, I think that some are being too hard on Lee.

I don’t believe this is the new norm, I think he was just cold. Lee is someone who averaged 10.25 goals per year on the power play from 2015-2016 through the 2018-2019 season. This past year he had just two power play goals.

The advanced numbers would lead you to believe that the lack of power play success shouldn’t carry over long-term. When Lee was on the ice on the power play the team had a 154 scoring chances for and 62 high danger chances for according to Natural Stat Trick.

Converting on just two of those chances seems just unlucky. In fact, if you look at his PDO on the power play it was a .935 (14th on the team) which would lead you to believe that he was rather snake bitten.

Let’s reference the numbers from last year. With Lee on the ice on the power play they had 252 scoring chances and 116 high danger chances for. Pacing out his 2019-2020 stats to 82 games, those numbers go from 154 to 185.7 and 62 to 74.

He scored 10 power play goals in 2019, which would mean one every 25.2 scoring chances while this year he scored at just a one every 77 scoring chances. For reference, Lee had 18 even strength goals last year and 18 this year in 68 games.

What does all this mean? Lee’s been unlucky, especially on the power play! No, he isn’t done, this isn’t a bad contract (yet), he just has been extremely unlucky.

With an improved Islanders power play, they finished 25% in the series against Florida, Lee could be leaned on as someone who can turn it around. Honestly, he has to.

It’s very rare that a team goes far in the playoffs without its top line working. Mathew Barzal looked more like himself in Game 4 and I think we see that transition to this next series.

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If Barzal is playing well, and the power play is generating more chances, then I fully expect Lee to come out of his scoring slump.