If the Islanders are looking to heat up after a slow start, they can look to Anders Lee for inspiration, since that is exactly what the center has done this season.
Lee has scored 11 goals in 14 games since Nov. 23, the most in the NHL during this span, after being held to one goal in the season’s first 18 games.
“Things are going right, right now,” said Lee, who had two goals and an assist in the Islanders’ 4-2 win over Boston Tuesday night that snapped a five-game losing streak. “I’ve been getting the bounces, I’ve been in the right places at the right times, recently. I’ve found my way a little bit and when we combine that with wins, it really is a lot of fun.”
This recent surge marks a stark contrast to the beginning of the year, when Lee (who came into the year with an 11.1 percent career shooting percentage) managed only one goal on 30 shots in his first 18 games (a 3.3 per cent rate). Since, his 11 goals have come on 35 shots, for a 31.4 percent shooting percentage.
“It was extremely frustrating, and on top of that we weren’t winning, so everything was getting compounded,” said Lee of his early slump. “It starts to get to you a lot, and you have to be able to let it go some how and fight through it.
“Sometimes when things aren’t going your way, you try to do too much or you try to get away from what makes you successful,” he added. “Kind of simplifying the game, just getting to the net, getting in the corners, getting back to roots helped me.”
“He’s working hard and he’s playing the system the correct way,” coach Jack Capuano said. “You never have to worry about him to go to those tough areas of the ice.”
Lee, who has four assists, is fourth on the Islanders in points and tied for second in plus-minus. The Islanders have been getting outshot this season, but according to Hockey-Reference.com, they get outshot at a lesser rate when Lee is on the ice.
“It’s great to see him getting rewarded for his hard work,” linemate Josh Bailey said. “We all know what he’s capable of. You see what guys are made of when they go through a tough stretch, and with a guy like him, it’s still always team first.”
Lee said his focus remains on helping the last-place Islanders reverse their own fortunes, and said they will need to build off their win on Tuesday with one Friday against Buffalo to go into the three-day Christmas break with some momentum.
“It was good to hold on in Boston and to wrap it up against Buffalo in a couple of nights would be really important,” he said.
It could be the start of a turnaround, something Lee is familiar with.
Notes & quotes: The Islanders signed center Stephen Gionta to a one-year, two-way contract and recalled him from Bridgeport of the AHL on Wednesday.