Montreal Canadiens forward Artturi Lehkonen suffered a broken finger in his team’s game on Monday night against the Colorado Avalanche. The injury occurred when Avalanche forward Valeri Nichushkin’s stick got caught in Lehkonen’s hand midway through the third period.
Following the game, Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme confirmed that Lehkonen would be sidelined for the next four to six weeks. This is a major blow for a Canadiens team that has struggled to find consistency throughout the season.
Lehkonen had been playing some of his best hockey of the year recently, recording three goals and two assists in his last five games. His absence will leave a noticeable hole in the Canadiens forward group, forcing Ducharme to shuffle his lines and give some of his younger players more ice time.
The Canadiens will also be without their captain Shea Weber for the rest of the season due to injury, making it all the more important for other players to step up and fill the void. The team currently sits fourth in the North Division, but with the Toronto Maple Leafs running away with the top spot, the Canadiens will need to start winning more consistently if they hope to secure a playoff spot.
It remains to be seen who will replace Lehkonen in the Canadiens lineup, but it’s possible that newcomer Alex Belzile could get an opportunity. Belzile was called up from the AHL’s Laval Rocket earlier this week and has yet to make his debut with the Canadiens.
Lehkonen’s injury also puts his participation in the upcoming IIHF World Championships in doubt. The tournament is set to take place in Latvia from May 21 to June 6, but with the Canadiens likely to be playing deep into May, Lehkonen may not be available to represent his native Finland.
In the meantime, the Canadiens will need to focus on the task at hand and find a way to win without one of their most reliable forwards. It won’t be easy, but if they’re able to come together as a team and rise to the challenge, they could still salvage their season and make a playoff run.