Anders Lee is playing dominant Hockey for the second year in a row.

Anders Lee was a big surprise last year.  Not that he wasn’t an eagerly anticipated prospect for the Isles by much of the fanbase (although the fanbase eagerly anticipates any player whose playing style involves being physical and bruising), but he put up numbers that were those of a pretty dominant player last year.  As I wrote when Lee came up this year:

That’s the stat line of a very plus possession player alongside good linemates, with a great shooting rate and who wasn’t sheltered territorially.  You can see some evidence of his less than great skating in the neutral zone data – where his 37% controlled entry rate is below average for a forward, but his line was such a plus possession line it didn’t matter.  They were only slightly positive in the neutral zone, which may suggest some decline, but the overall numbers are really good and even the neutral zone #s, due to the 51.1% on-ice entry rate, was terrific.
 

In short, in Lee’s 22 games, Lee was:
1st on the Isles in 5 on 5 goals per 60 minutes.
1st on the Isles in 5 on 5 shots on goal per 60 minutes.
the leader amongst Isles forwards in corsi.

Those are pretty awesome numbers and the underlying numbers (Shots on goal, corsi), suggested it wasn’t a fluke. So we were pretty sure he had the talent to be at least a solid or even plus player going forward, even if his pedigree suggested he probably wouldn’t repeat that performance in the next year.

Well it’s only been 18 games, but this year, Lee is:
1st on the Isles in 5 on 5 goals per 60 minutes.
1st on the Isles in 5 on 5 shots on goal per 60 minutes.
Leading Isles forwards in corsi.

Yes, he is DOING IT AGAIN. Now again, this is a small sample size, and again, for the second year in a row, Lee is playing amongst some good forwards – Nielsen and Bailey last year, Strome and Nelson this year. But all those guys have better numbers with Lee than other players, and Lee this year is even getting a good number of defensive zone starts.

The Kid is playing dominant hockey 40 games into his career. Still way too early to anoint him as this great for real, but he should not be sitting any time soon, nor should he be changing his game in any sort of way (although he should not get into fights like he did against Washington – we’d like him to stay on the floor!)

UPDATE: I noted this in my Neutral Zone Data post through 15 games at Lighthouse Hockey that Lee had video game good #s through that point in the season, although it involved only 9 games at that point. I’ve tracked through the Capitals game Friday and the numbers are still comically awesome:

With Lee on the ice, the Isles have:
Made 53.2% of entries;
Made 48% of their entries with control (carry-in or pass-in);
held opponents to controlled entries on only 37.3% of entries.

Those are insanely good numbers in the Neutral zone.

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Neutral Zone Analysis: 2014-2015 Season: Game 20 vs Pittsburgh

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And here is the neutral zone data for the Isles’ home game against Pitt on 11/22, the second half of the home and home. This time around the Isles DID dominate the neutral zone, as they did dominate the whole game.  A carry-in rate of 59% is amazing, and holding the pens to 43% is great, and of course the Isles out-entered the Pens as well.  John Tavares once again had a ton of carry-ins, ala last year, which is a great sign.

Overall, between the home and home with Pitt, the Isles outplayed the penguins in the neutral zone overall, with a neutral zone fenwick of 51.6%.  Given that the Pens are an elite opponent, that’s a pretty great sign.

Neutral Zone Analysis: 2014-2015 Season: Game 19 AT Pittsburgh

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The Isles outplayed the Pens in the first game of this home and home, on the road, as shown by the possession #s (also and by us winning). That said, the victory wasn’t carried by neutral zone play: while the Isles were even in controlled entries with the Pens, they were outentered by Pittsburgh.

Instead, the Isles made the most out of their entries. Again, this isn’t a method of out-possessing the opponent that will work as consistently as simply winning the neutral zone, but the Isles were up nearly the entire game so with score effects, this really doesn’t look that bad. And it was a road game vs an elite Penguins team.  The question is whether the Isles would win the neutral zone in the rematch the next day….

Neutral Zone Analysis: 2014-2015 Season: Game 18 vs Tampa

G18

Whereas the last game was a schedule loss for the Isles, this was one for the Lightning, who had played the Rangers just the day before. But whereas the Isles were solidly beaten in the neutral zone in their own schedule loss, the Isles barely beat the bolts in the NZ in this game.

Now of course, the Isles solidly defeated the lightning anyhow, thanks to superior offensive zone play leading to more shots per entry and the “goaltending” of Evgeni Nabokov. So in the long run, no harm no foul. But you’d like to see better NZ numbers than this considering the circumstances. You can win without them sure – but you’ll win more consistently win if you take advantage of the neutral zone.

One thing to note player wise from this game is that John Tavares finally looked like himself from previous years, being super active in the neutral zone and carrying-in a ton. Let’s hope that continues.

Neutral Zone Analysis: 2014-2015 Season: Game 16 AT Florida

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Another excellent performance in the neutral zone for the Isles, who dominated by carrying in a ton while not allowing much for the Panthers. Oddly, the Panthers got a ton of shots off of dump ins this game, which is NOT normal – it’s not uncommon to see games where teams get nearly no shots off dumps in an entire game, but getting more shots per entry off dumps than off carries is bizarre.