In his rookie season Artturi Lehkonen put forth some of the best games of his professional career on a playoff stretch run, and in the postseason. With a Wild Card berth just barely out of the Canadiens’ grasp, Lehkonen is finding that form once more.
Every game this week is the biggest game of the year, but Tampa Bay may very well have been the biggest hurdle on this stretch run. Against the President’s Trophy winning, ridiculously deep Lightning team Lehkonen played arguably his best game of the season.
Lehkonen played like a man possessed, scoring a game winning goal, and setting up Max Domi’s insurance goal right after. To go along with a multi-point game, Lehkonen tallied five shots at five on five, second on the team to human puck hose Brendan Gallagher. In fact the only one who produced more individual corsi for (iCF), individual scoring chances for (iSCF) and individual high danger chances for (iHDCF) than Lehkonen was Gallagher. That is the company Lehkonen should be a part of, and it is a promising sign he is being rewarded for his strong play with goals and points.
Lehkonen has been a strong player all year, an easily forgettable fact due to his goal scoring drought, but he has been creating plenty of chances for himself and linemates. He ranks top five in iCF, iSCF and iHDCF, trailing Gallagher and players like Tomas Tatar and Max Domi. Again heady company for a young player who has played limited minutes on the fourth line, to his current role on Max Domi’s wing.
Lehkonen’s strong play in this final stretch is a massive confidence booster, not only for the Finn, but the Canadiens as well. Adding another scoring threat to a deep group on the wings makes this last gasp fight to the end of the year just a little bit easier. If Montreal slides their way into the playoffs with Lehkonen playing like this there’s every chance in the world they can shock whoever they come up against.