Anders Lee has been one of the NHL's premiere goal scorers over the last three months, and it's helping to form a dominant top line for the Islanders.
According to Elias, only Montreal Canadiens' Max Pacioretty (24) has scored more goals in the NHL over the last 35 games. Lee, who now has 21 on the season, had just one goal in his first 18 games.
"I think him and Bails have proved a lot of people wrong as far as guys who can play those kind of minutes," Doug Weight said of the Islanders top line. "They've helped Johnny in a lot of ways, too."
Lee is now has nine points (four goals and five assists) in the last six games. It marks the second time in his career he has reached 20 goals.
I think we have to look at the first 18 games of Lee's season as an aberration because he was one of the team's best forwards last season, he scored 25 the year before that, and he's been borderline unstoppable since Thanksgiving. It's not hard to imagine that Lee's recovery from a broken leg in April last year may have bled into the beginning of this year. At the very least, it could have made him a little timid in front of the net. But now, he's firing on all cylinders, and it's not just deflections that are putting Lee on the score sheet.
Outside of perfecting those tip ins, Lee is getting better instincts on where to move and when to be higher in the slot (as seen on his second goal on the game). But his forecheck has improved as well. Proof was a shift that probably will go overlooked in a five goal game (especially since it didn't result in a goal) is the one the top line had in the middle of the first period. Lee, Josh Bailey, and John Tavares' forecheck and puck possession were relentless as the three (along with Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuck) created about four or five legitimate scoring chances and had the puck for nearly a minute in the Colorado zone. Even though they couldn't cash it in, the Isles scored about five minutes later to even the game at one.
Sometimes those are the kind of shifts that end up wearing the opposition down to create chances later on. So with Lee and Bailey raising their game to help provide viable options for JT to turn to, it's made the entire line, and frankly the entire team, better. If they can keep it up, it should create even more chances for Tavares to dominate in the most important time of the year.