Anders Lee has often showed his willingness to put the group in front of the individual, but it was only natural to feel the sting three years ago. There were the Islanders, going to the playoffs, and there was Lee, in a cast he earned in the 80th game of the regular season.
“It stung pretty hard,” he said Wednesday, healthy and ready for Game 1 against the Penguins at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum, and much removed from the broken leg that cost him the Isles' 2016 playoff run. This will be his first time back in the playoffs since that year, his first time doing it as captain, and only his sixth playoff game.
“I’ve been looking forward to this,” he said. “Not being able to play in the last series, being injured, you learn a lot. You learn a lot about yourself. That feeling of not being out there, [and] watching guys go out there and play.”
Lee, who had 28 goals and 23 assists in 82 games during the regular season, said Tuesday night was something akin to Christmas Eve and he is set to play in his usual spot on the first line, beside Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle.
“It’s nice that I’ll be in there [Wednesday night] for sure,” he said. “Like I’ve been saying, it’s something we’ve all worked for and we’ve all committed to and stuck together with and now the opportunity is here.”