The Montreal Canadiens added quite a few pieces in the off-season, and a lot of them have gone on to be important pieces of a surprising Canadiens team. Tomas Tatar, Max Domi and Jesperi Kotkaniemi have become driving forces, but Joel Armia has quietly become a stabilizing element in this lineup. The team becomes much more well rounded when Armia steps in.
Against Detroit, the One Man Armia was in top form in a game where the exhausted Canadiens grabbed two valuable points from the Red Wings. In all situations, Armia was Claude Julien’s most used forward with 19:43 in ice time. That includes 13:12 at 5v5, and 3:28 on the penalty kill. At 5v5, Armia saw a ton of Gustav Nyquist (7:12) and Dylan Larkin (7:42), easily two of the Red Wings best players.
Even against the the Wings top players, he grabbed his fourth goal of the year in typical Armia fashion. He followed the play through the zone, and as the puck bounced off of Max Domi’s skate he was in a high danger area to bury his shot on Jimmy Howard.
That’s what Montreal needs from him too. The Canadiens don’t need Joel Armia to be a 30 goal scorer, they need him to be a defensive presence who can chip in goals by doing the right things on the ice. His ability to maintain puck control in traffic and along the boards serves as a benefit to his linemates as he allows them to find space while he controls the puck.
Tuesday, Armia played with Domi and Jonathan Drouin. He could easily slot in next to Kotkaniemi next game, or slide to help the fourth line with their minutes. There isn’t anywhere in the lineup Claude Julien can’t plug Armia in, and that’s a good thing to have in your back pocket as the season wears on.