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Lehtera blames poor season on added World Cup schedule

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

Extra games on the calendar left Jori Lehtera playing on fumes.

The veteran forward, who was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers from the St. Louis Blues at this year’s entry draft, believes a busier than usual schedule last season contributed to his dip in production.

“It was different than before. It made it a little bit harder,” Lehtera told Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We started to skate so early, so I was kind of out of gas the second half.”

In 64 games with the Blues last season, Lehtera put up just 22 points, down from 34 and 44 points in his past two campaigns.

The Finnish forward, who made his NHL debut with the Blues in 2014-15, was called upon by his home nation to skate in last year’s World Cup, a tournament in which his country finished dead last and Lehtera was held pointless in three contests.

That inability to score carried over to the regular season, and the Blues, surely unhappy that Lehtera wasn’t living up to his $4.7-million cap hit, shipped him to Philadelphia in the deal that brought Brayden Schenn to St. Louis.

Still, Lehtera is happy to get a fresh start with the Flyers.

“It’s always tough to leave when you know all of the guys and the city,” Lehtera added. “But hockey-wise, it’s going to be good for me. I didn’t play well at the end, but I think a new start will be really good for me.”

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