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Anders Lee Could Make Preseason Debut on Tuesday in Bridgeport

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Anders Lee

The New York Islanders will be back in Bridgeport on Tuesday to face the Philadelphia Flyers as the preseason begins to wind down. One face that should be on the ice on Tuesday is Islanders captain Anders Lee.

The 31-year-old is returning from an ACL injury that sidelined him for most of the season last year. Lee has skated in training camp without any restrictions, but he has yet to take the ice in any of the team’s first three exhibition games.

Head coach Barry Trotz had always planned to keep Lee out of the early part of the preseason, but with only three games left on the calendar before the regular season starts the expectation is he should play soon.

“We felt very confident he was going to play in some games,” Trotz said after practice on Monday. “We just didn’t know how many and we were just going to base it off of how he felt during the practices, scrimmages and that. He feels pretty good. There’s a good chance that he’s going to be in the last three (preseason games) or two of the last three.”

Anders Lee hasn’t played in a game since March 11 when he was hurt in a game against the New Jersey Devils at Nassau Coliseum. Lee’s presence back in the lineup will be a major boost for the Islanders’ offense as well as an upgrade for star forward Mathew Barzal.

Barzal has had plenty of success with Anders Lee on his line and it is believed that will only improve with the likely addition of Kyle Palmieri to the top line.

“Being that net presence, burying those goals in front and just creating space out there for me,” Barzal said about the elements Lee brings. “I think it’s going to be good to just get a game in or two before the season. Hopefully, we can transition quick. It’s nice to just have him back out there just working plays on the power play, getting him the puck low and he’s such a load. It’s going to be nice to have him winning battles for me in the corner.”

The Islanders travel to New Jersey to face the Devils on Thursday and close out the preseason on Saturday against the New York Rangers at Webster Bank Arena.

By all accounts, it would seem that if for some reason Anders Lee doesn’t play on Tuesday, he’ll be in the lineup on Thursday. Trotz noted the importance of getting Barzal and Lee some time together before the puck drops in Carolina for the season opener on Oct. 14.

“A few games in together would be really important for them,” Trotz said. “I think Barzy and Anders, they have a long relationship since I’ve been here. It’s just getting used to Palms. And Palms is a guy that gets open. He gets open and shoots the puck. It’s not going to change Leezy’s game.”

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