CALGARY, Alberta - Anders Lee has a knack for scoring goals, that much is clear. He's up to nine in 31 games this season and 19 in 55 career NHL games to go with 25 in 59 career AHL games. But his AHL career is long gone now.
He's also proved to not just be a net-front garbageman, cleaning up whatever's left out on the ice for him. He has four goals in the past six games, including a key third-period goal in the Islanders' 5-2 win over the Jets in Winnipeg on Wednesday, and the last three have been the sort of skilled moves in tight around the net that few players could make.
That includes a pair of mid-air tips, one to provide the late winner over the Lightning two weeks ago and one to open the scoring against the Capitals on Monday. Add in his roof job from just inches away from Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec's pads on Wednesday, and Lee is on a roll.
"You work on those skills, but sometimes these things happen so fast, you're like, 'I don't even know how that happened,' " Lee said after the Islanders practiced here in advance of Friday night's game against the Flames. "The defensemen in the NHL are so good at shooting for the high tips, it makes those a little easier. But it is something I work on after practice every day. I'm glad I'm getting the bounces and we're getting the bounces as a team."
Lee, 24, is the only rookie regular on the Islanders' roster and is older than Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson. Jack Capuano has stressed his younger players' work away from the puck as key to their success, but Lee has rarely been on the ice this season without him or his teammates in possession of the puck. Lee's individual Corsi and Fenwick ratings are highest among all the team's forwards.
Those are things that the average fan has a hard time seeing. It's much easier to see Lee parked in the slot, stick at waist height, blade down, redirecting a shot that's going wide down and into the net.
"Half the time, you get what you think is the right angle and speed and it can go wide," Lee said. "There's definitely some luck involved. When you're on a roll, you just hope it continues."