(Denver) The Artturi Lehkonen we saw in the Avalanche locker room on this early Wednesday morning didn’t look so much like the player we once met at the Bell Centre.
This version is a calmer, more relaxed one. More serene? Yes, why not, because the Lehkonen Colorado version seems to spin the perfect happiness. In 27 games this season, he already has 21 points, a pace that puts him in position to have the best season of his career, nothing less.
Has he changed things, learned new tricks of the trade, discovered the virtues of transcendental meditation? No, none of that, he assured us with an almost embarrassed smile.
“I went from a team that was not very good to a very good team, he began by saying. It makes a big difference, and I quickly had the chance to play with very good players. I haven’t changed anything in my game…
“Here in Denver, the standards are very high every day. This is one of the things that I noticed quickly when I arrived here. »
Before these snippets of wisdom are interpreted as so many arrows directed at his former employer, he would have to think again. Because Artturi Lehkonen repeated it, another time and then again: Montreal had become a second home for him. There is no trace of bitterness in his words when he begins to talk about his six years at the Bell Centre.
“I learned a lot there… My first year with (Tomas) Plekanec was formative, and also allowed me to grow as a player and as a person…
“So I miss Montreal because I spent a lot of time there. I think I was appreciated by the fans, and it will be fun to see these guys again (Wednesday night) on the ice. It will be the first time against them…”
Some of these guys went to have a bite to eat with him on Tuesday evening in Denver, in a tavern that we can guess is of good quality. Jake Evans was there, he who first appreciated the fact that the meal was paid for by his ex-teammate. “It was good because it was free,” he summed up with a laugh.
Lehkonen added that he was “quite disappointed” not to be able to face his injured friend Brendan Gallagher, who was unable to make the trip. Moreover, he will try to continue doing what he does so well in this 2022-23 season, he who is the Avalanche’s fourth scorer.
“I just feel like I can help the team in all facets of the game…that’s all I try to do. »
No change for the Canadian
Martin St-Louis had good words for Lehkonen.
“I’ve coached him long enough to know how important a player like that can be on a team…he’s a guy who can play anywhere on the ice and anywhere in the lineup, on the power play, on the back end…These players those are hard to find. »
Does the Canadian of the moment have this type of player? “Uh…I’m not sure,” the coach replied.
Moreover, at the end of an optional training session on Wednesday morning, coach Martin St-Louis confirmed that the Canadiens were not going to make any changes among the attackers and defenders for this game against Colorado. Thus, the young Anthony Richard will play his second match in the tricolor jersey.
The Avalanche will be without a few strong players for Wednesday night’s game in Denver, including star forward Nathan MacKinnon, who won’t be there due to injury. But Martin St-Louis is wary despite everything.
“They miss some guys but collectively, it’s not easy to play against them,” noted the Montreal coach. We will have to be alert and we will have to play very good hockey… we will have to be at our best. »
Jake Allen will be in goal.
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Canadian – Avalanche | The new life of Artturi Lehkonen
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