International Ice Hockey Federation

Lee improves offensive game

Lee improves offensive game

Team USA forward a dangerous goal scorer

Published 09.05.2017 00:15 GMT+2 | Author John Sanful
Lee improves offensive game
COLOGNE, GERMANY - MAY 7: USA's Anders Lee #27 and Denmark's Oliver Lauridsen #25 battle for position while Sebastian Dahm #32 looks on during preliminary round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Anders Lee has experienced enough ups and downs this season playing for the New York Islanders. In fact, his was a tale of two seasons.

In 2014-15, Lee scored 25 goals but his scoring touch regressed and he only managed 15 a season later. Coming into 2016-17, there was some pressure on Lee to resume his form of two years ago. But instead what happened was that Lee’s ability to score appeared to be further diminished. Over the first 18 games of the season he had only one goal.

But then Lee began doing little things on the ice like battling for pucks and using his big frame in front of the net to cause traffic and create space for his teammates. Along the way, Lee started scoring again and again and again. 

Despite the terrible start, Lee finished with 34 goals. Over the final 63 games, he scored 33 goals the second most by an NHL player in that span of time.

“I think sticking to my game, staying confident and staying positive,” Lee said of his season. “Hockey is an extremely random structured game, there are a lot of things you can do well and not score and not see results and sometimes you score when you shouldn’t so it is just one of those things where you have to keep your head up.”

He has developed into a legitimate power forward playing alongside John Tavares. But Lee also proved he could play without Tavares and create his own opportunities around the net. Over the final five games of the season when Tavares was out with a lower body injury, Lee scored five goals in five games.

“I had some great chemistry with my linemates this year and we all worked extremely hard and things seemed to eventually work out.” He said.

Not only did they work out but helped build confidence that translated into his becoming a more effective leader off the ice and in the dressing room.

“Any time things are going well for you on the ice it is easy to be a leader because you are not coming from a dark hole.” Lee said. “You can see things fairly sometimes as opposed to when things aren’t going well you get bottled in a little bit. That is why good players can keep their heads and continue to play their game because they know things can turn around.”

Lee is representing Team USA for the second time in three years. Two years ago, in the Czech Republic he contributed a goal and five points in ten games as the Americans won the bronze medal.

“It is always an honor to put this jersey on,” Lee said of being on Team USA. “It is only my second time in this tournament and I cherish these weeks and happy and proud to be here and represent the country. It is always something you dream about as a kid. To do it on this stage is pretty fun.”

He does admit, though, that it takes some getting used to the style of hockey that he’s grown accustomed to in the NHL. Not only playing on the big ice is an adjustment but the way the game is played.

“The type of game is a little bit different than what we are used to because teams box up in front of their goalie so we have to work to get in the middle ice there.” He said. “When you play teams that have been doing this regularly their structure is much better and that much more intertwined at a tournament like this.”

USA’s 2-1 loss to Germany meant that they must regroup and put up some wins over the rest of the Preliminary Round if they are to have any chance of moving on into the round of eight.

“We learned a lot against Germany and will try to rebound, but you have got to give them credit they defended pretty well.” Lee said of their opening game. “It is always tough to start a tournament with a loss but we have six more games in the round robin to bounce back and we look forward to the challenge.”

Team USA responded with a 7-2 win over Denmark in their second game of the tournament. Lee scored two goals in the contest. 


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