NBCSN’s coverage of the 2020-21 NHL season continues with Tuesday’s matchup between the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
Early on in his NHL career, Anders Lee fell victim to the dreaded numbers game. After scoring nine times in 22 games during the 2013-14 season, he was sent down to Bridgeport of the AHL and got motivated.
The work Lee put in paid off as he’s scored 164 goals in the eight years since and is now in his third season as Islanders captain. As he’s done with his game, the 30-year-old is always trying to improve in his leadership role with the team.
“I’m always trying to better myself and be better in the room, take what works and take what didn’t work and learn from other guys and ask questions,” Lee said. “I think I like to try to always continue to grow.”
Lee took questions from NHL TV rightsholders before the season about how his game has grown, playing for Barry Trotz, and lessons learned from the 2020 playoffs.
Q. What’s the biggest difference between your game today compared to your first NHL season?
ANDERS LEE: “I like to think I’m a more well-rounded player. I think you come in a little green and have a lot to learn. The first couple years pro there’s so many little things and things you learn from the older guys, whether it’s even from systems to small little plays here and there. You like to think that you try to grow every year and every season.”
Q. Any aspects of your game you’ve worked on to improve on this offseason?
LEE: “I worked a lot on my skating. Lot of things in tight. Wanted to get back to a lot of those little skill plays that I relied upon and tried to really look at the ice in different ways. And things on the rush that have really come into our game, especially when you play with guys like [Matt Barzal] and [Jordan Eberle]. Some things that we’ve improved on in the line have really, really benefited us and a reason why we’ve had some pretty good games.”
Q. What did you learn from playing against the eventual Stanley Cup champion Lightning?
LEE: “They were extremely solid in our series. Getting into the interior was really tough. They were always on top of you coming out of the zone and they really committed to their defense and have one of the best goalies in the league. So, there wasn’t a lot there, and when you did have a chance you really had to capitalize and they made it very difficult on us.”
Q. What about playing under Barry [Trotz] has helped your game?
LEE: “I think his mindset. I think the way he addresses the team, has a pretty good pulse on things, and good read on how everyone’s feeling. And I think that goes a long way when he comes into the room every day and has something to say. If it hits, it definitely, definitely is well-received.”
Q. Is there a quirky detail about Nassau Coliseum that only you would know from being in the under bowels of the building?
LEE: “When you come out of our locker room there are these gold-plated plaques of all the Islander hall of famers. You sit out there in two or three minutes before you take the ice, right? The boys would always test me and I’d memorized a few of them and name off their stats.”
Q. Is there a moment or a memory that sticks out to you, an interaction with a fan or a moment when the fans took over a game just from being loud?
LEE: “I think the first playoff series I played in against Washington at home in 2015. Before the game we could literally hear and feel the crowd in the locker room. That was no different later on in any other series, but, for me, that was my first experience with a playoff game at the Coliseum and yeah, that is fun to think about sometimes.”