I don’t think anyone other than Columbus Blue Jackets fans wants to talk about last night’s game very much. It was a sad game. The Canadiens dominated the home team, but bad luck, a horrible penalty, and some defensive lapses made for a very sad result.
But there is a positive to take from that game; Artturi Lehkonen just may be waking up offensively.
His goal on the night wasn’t a wild display of skill, but he showed great awareness. He jumped into the play after subbing in for Tomas Tatar, and came out of nowhere to convert on Phillip Danault’s failed pass attempt for Brendan Gallagher in the slot.
Other than the goal, it was a rather pedestrian night for him statistically, sitting at exactly 50% corsi-for at five-on-five while his team was over 60%. But he put four shots on net and looked hungry to find the net despite only doing it once.
Coming into the game, he was shooting a rather tepid 5.3% on the year. His career mark is 8%, so you have to like his chances of producing more goals moving forwards, especially if he can keep getting rubber on net like he did last night. If this is in fact a sign of more to come from him, it couldn’t come at a better time.
Jonathan Drouin will be out for about two months, maybe more, following his wrist surgery. That leaves a gaping hole on the left side of the forward group, which Lehkonen could step up to fill. It would be a tough task to straight up replace what Drouin can do, but for him to get going would be a step in the right direction for the team.
Of course, you can’t ignore the distinct possibility that he becomes a bargaining chip in a potential trade. The Habs still sit in the top three of their division as of this writing, and if they want to stay there through the year, they may need to seek some assistance up front.
I don’t like the idea of trading Lehkonen at all, but it will have to be something they consider if it could improve the team. Paul Byron is out for some time too, and although he’s been struggling offensively, they’ll need to look elsewhere if the answer to more offense cannot be found in-house.
But whether he’s contributing to the Habs directly, or making himself more valuable in a hypothetical trade, Artturi Lehkonen heating up now is an excellent sign for the Tricolore.