The Islanders' "Kid Line" has been more than all right in the two games that Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome have played together.
Leave aside a few pesky details, such as the fact that Lee actually is two months older than captain John Tavares. This line had its origins in training camp, and that early chemistry is paying dividends now.
"We know each other pretty well on and off the ice," said Lee, who played with Nelson often during the preseason while Strome struggled to find a role.
Strome earned a spot on the opening night roster and a spot on the wing with Nelson and Mikhail Grabovski; Lee did not, although he had a more than capable camp. But Lee returned from AHL Bridgeport on Thursday and immediately jumped in with Nelson, his good friend and camp roommate, as well as Strome, who has settled in as a creative NHL winger despite being a natural center.
After a good night against the Bruins, the Kid Line struck twice in the Islanders' 7-5 win over the Stars on Saturday night.
Lee scored the first goal of the game, a neat redirect of Thomas Hickey's shot/pass in the high slot. The 6-4 Lee has a nose for the net and a knack for scoring goals; it was his 11th goal in 26 NHL games over three seasons. He also is getting time on the top power-play unit. His assignment is to stand in front of the opposing goal and create havoc.
"Anders knows how he needs to play, below the hash marks," coach Jack Capuano said. "We continue to work with him on play away from the puck. The offense is going to take care of itself."
Nelson scored on a rebound of Strome's shot early in the second period, Nelson's team-leading fifth goal in the first eight games. It was Strome's seventh assist, all at even strength, tying him for the league lead in that category.
"We're working well together. There's a lot of talk, a lot of communication," Lee said. "Our different styles work well together."
With Grabovski back after missing three games because of a concussion and working well with Frans Nielsen and Nikolay Kulemin, the Islanders' middle two lines now can be just as potent as the top line, which struggled Saturday night.
It once would have been unthinkable for the Isles to score seven goals when Tavares is held scoreless. The Kid Line is helping to change those thoughts.