Lee Making the Jump to the NHL Smoothly
Christian Arnold , Islanders Point Blank:
SYOSSET, N.Y – It was a surreal moment for Anders Lee when he stepped out onto the Nassau Coliseum ice Tuesday night for his NHL debut.
“Before hand you can dream about it,” he said after practice Wednesday at Islanders Ice Works. “But you don’t really know what it’s going to feel like until you get out there. And it was pretty special.”
The 22-year-old rookie forward made quite an impression in his first game with the Islanders. On his first shot of the game, Lee was able to score his first career NHL goal. “With his talent and his skill I knew it wouldn’t take long, but first shot you don’t really think about that. But he picked that corner perfectly and it couldn’t have been any better for him,” said Casey Cizikas, who grabbed the puck for Lee after he scored.
Islander head coach Jack Capuano liked what he saw from Lee, saying that he thought he played well. Lee saw 9:36 of playing time in the 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets.
“[We] tried to put him in a position to succeed in his first game with the matchups that we had at home,” Capuano said. “I thought overall he played well. He got pucks to the net and went to the net hard. I thought that line generated some offense for us, but I was pleased with his game.”
While there is always a transition period for any new player, Lee seemed to handle himself well. He did make some mistakes early in the game, including poor defensive coverage on Paul Postma that lead to Winnipeg’s first goal, but it was the only noticeable miscue by the rookie.
Lee said after practice that the biggest difference he noticed between the college level and the NHL was the speed of the game.
“You can’t control the puck very long, you have to get it and move it,” he said. “Keep moving your feet and being in the right position. Your head is always thinking, always doing something, so there’s not a lot of lag time.”
But it doesn’t seem like that has hindered Lee. In fact, Cizikas believes he could become a dominant player for the Islanders.
“He works extremely hard,” Cizikas said. “That’s something that’s going to get you far… If he just continues doing that, and doing the right things, he’s going to be a dominant player. Only time will tell when that happens.”
For Lee, Tuesday’s debut was a dream come true made even more special by the fact that his mom and dad made it down to Long Island for the game. “I couldn’t be happier that they could be there to support me and it was awesome. We all enjoyed it,” he said.
And that puck that Lee scored with? Expect that to be sitting on the mantel in the Lee household sometime soon as a reminder of a great first night in the NHL.