Landeskog astonished by Lehkonen | The Montreal Newspaper


DENVER | Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Cale Makar, Mikko Rantanen: the Avalanche are counting on several good scorers. Yet, looking at the winning goal column, they are not the ones aiming at the top of the table.

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Instead, it is Artturi Lehkonen who stands out with three winning goals, including the one that propelled the Avalanche to their first Stanley Cup final since 2001.

To make new friends, the Finnish, acquired by the Canadian on commercial maturity, could hardly find better.

“I didn’t know much about him. I didn’t know how good he was until I saw him play with us in the last six weeks of the season, ”Landeskog said.

“He can contribute in all facets of the game. He is tenacious in the preliminary checks, he is always in the right place, he has a good stick and he has that finishing touch,” added the Swede. It is the Swiss army knife that can be inserted anywhere in training without losing its effectiveness. “

If his captain knew practically nothing of the Canadian’s former number 62, for Joe Sakic, general manager of Avalanche, it was totally the opposite. To be ready to give up a second-round pick (in 2024) and a young prospect (Justin Barron), you need to love what you get in return.

“He’s a versatile player who can play on any line. He was just the kind of player we were looking for, Sakic said earlier this week. He’s a competitor, he’s fast. And what’s also interesting is that he fits in perfectly. in our training. When making a transaction, this is something to consider. “

Experience appreciated

The other thing not to be overlooked is Lehkonen’s recent experience in the NHL finals. Prior to Game 1 against Lightning, the 26-year-old was one of only four Avalanche players with experience in the final round.

Darren Helm, twice with the Red Wings (2008 and 2009), Andre Burakovsky with the Capitals (2018) and Andrew Cogliano with the Stars (2020) were the other three.

Which is quite in contrast to the 16 Lightning players who have played at least one final, 12 of which have won the Stanley Cup in 2020 and 2021.

“He already participated in a final last year with Montreal. We are therefore thrilled to have him with us, said Cale Makar. He has been so good to us so far. He is such a determined player. He never stops working. This was a key acquisition for us as the deal expired. “

A revenge

Lehkonen started the Grand Final the same way he ended the Western Conference Final, hitting the target. In addition, he has collected seven points (three goals, four assists) in his last five games.

A great way to get into this other confrontation against the Lightning that wants a different conclusion.

“This series is like a revenge for me. But again, this team is a good challenge, Lehkonen said. It will be a tough confrontation. We will have to go through matches one at a time to make sure we stay in the present moment. “

All right. For now, the present moment indicates that the Avalanche are leading this 1-0 series.


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