Rabid Habs

Artturi Lehkonen Deserves To Be On The First Line

With the Habs losing three straight games in a season that’s only four games old, it may be time to shake things up. Your Montreal Canadiens can’t score a goal to save their lives, so what could you expect to see?

A full makeover on all four offensive lines.

After the Canadiens’ aggravating 3-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, Claude Julien and his coaching staff went straight to the drawing board. The end product is something we have not seen before. Considering the Habs record and their goal scoring issues, this seems like a reasonable reaction.

Here are how the lines stack up:

Pacioretty-Drouin-Lehkonen

Byron-Plekanec-Gallagher

Hudon-Danault-Shaw

Galchenyuk-Mitchell-Hemsky

From Paul Byron being slotted into the top six after playing fourth line minutes, to Alex Galchenyuk dwindling into the abyss on that fourth line, the player that stuck out was none other than Artturi Lehkonen. I would never have expected to see Lehkonen on that first line with Pacioretty and Drouin. To my surprise, Brendan Gallagher was dropped from the first line. I thought Gallagher played quite well on that 1st line by simply playing like himself – an aspect of his game we have not seen in a while. Being a pain in the rear end to the opposing goalie and his ability to drive his opponents crazy make Gallagher a fan and coach favorite.

Nonetheless, Claude Julien must have seen something that I didn’t. However, with Gallagher on the second line alongside Paul Byron and Tomas Plekanec, Lehkonen is next in line to play with the likes of Jonathan Drouin. I believe he can produce wonders with Patches and Drouin, knowing Lehkonen’s skillset.

Although the results aren’t on the stat sheet, Lehkonen has played incredibly early on this season. He’s highly noticeable whenever he’s on the ice. In every single shift, he simply gives it his all on the offensive and defensive side of the game. He’s constantly pouncing on loose pucks and creating scoring opportunities for his linemates. In other words, he’s a one-man wrecking ball. The Finnish native has done everything in his power to earn a spot on the first line. He’s absolutely deserving of that spot given his recent play. With the exception of Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk, Artturi Lehkonen is the most suitable player to play alongside Max Pacioretty and Jonathan Drouin.

The decision to put Artturi Lehkonen on the first line comes with no risk. We already know what he can bring offensively and defensively. Julien is certainly comfortable playing the Frolunda product on that first line considering his strong two-way play.

Time will tell if this experiment works. However, Artturi Lehkonen is definitely deserving of a spot on the first line.

What do you think? Who should be on that top line? Are the other changes positive? Sound off in the comments and on social media!

Follow Robert on Twitter @TheStandardBob, and follow @RabidHabs for more updates!