Montreal Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis was rarely outspoken on Monday. The club’s Finnish striker had run out of patience Joel Armian with after the team had lost badly on New Year’s Day in Washington, 2-9.
A couple of days earlier, Florida had seeded Montreal 7–2.
When a team loses by such numbers, it is clear that changes are made to the playing lineup. And it wasn’t that Armia was particularly bad in the two big goal losses – Armia actually took only one minus in those games.
However, ice hockey is a scoring game, and in that regard, St. Louis had come full circle. Armia has not scored a goal in 26 matches this season. No, even though the coach has played this to the limit in different formations and even in the top chain.
With only three assist points in the pile, commanding the stands was only a matter of time for the Porila striker.
St. Louis told local media after Monday’s practice, referring to both the team and individual level, that all things have a best before day, including his patience.
– It’s about the tools that Armia has. Now I have to give him a chance to get into a better state mentally. Maybe watching one game from above will give him a chance to start over, St. Louis told Montreal media on Tuesday.
Reached by Urheilu from Nashville, Armia herself, despite her clear annoyance, reacted to the stand command with all humility.
– Yes, I understand this. There is nothing you can do here but look in the mirror. I’ve had opportunities to play. You have to be able to perform better, it’s as simple as that, Armia stated carefully with her words.
– But it’s quite clear that everyone here wants to play, Armia added.
An old song
In the case of Armia, who received his puck upbringing in Essi, the tone is unfortunately familiar from previous years. The 29-year-old winger, who broke through in Winnipeg a few years ago as a high-quality bottom chain player, has never really had a decent result at the NHL level, although opportunities have been offered, especially in Montreal.
Known especially for his shooting and goal-scoring skills when he was younger, Armia’s single-season scoring record is from four years ago. At that time, Armia scored 16 goals in only 58 matches, so there would have been much more in a healthy season.
At the NHL level, Armias has emerged as a reliable two-way forward, but the result has never been bigger than the otherwise high-quality performance. The situation has become particularly difficult after Armia signed a four-year and more than 13 million dollar extension contract with Montreal in the summer of 2021.
Since then, only 13 goals have been scored in 127 matches. In the three years Armia has scored 0.37 goals per hour he has played with five against five. Lukema is still the second weakest among Finnish forwards playing in the NHL at the limit of thirty games played, behind Arizona Matias Maccellin after.
On the other hand, at the same time, in the three previous years, Armia has recorded 7.7 goalscoring chances per hour played with five against five. The reading is the sixth highest of the Montreal group. When looking at shooting percentages (4.9%), the ranking is 25th.
– When there are points and goals, it opens up and makes playing easier. It gives a relaxed feeling when you know that you have scored a result and helped the team in that way. The other side of the coin is squeezing the club when they don’t come. You’ll probably make some decisions then that you wouldn’t have made otherwise, Armia said.
Armia’s basic playing is still enough for the NHL, but at the same time, he is constantly in a hurry with the ever-accelerating game. This can also be seen in the developed statistics, which are Armia’s weakest in this NHL career, when we talk about goal expectations and goal position statistics 5 on 5.
Of course, the statistics also reflect the weak level of the Montreal team and how Armia is played.
– You can’t hide behind anything here, you have to play better. I have to be better at everything. Now we just have to bounce back from this situation and play better in the spring. That’s what we work for here every day.
Faith is enough
Armia’s situation in Montreal should be kept an eye on in the future as well. The results haven’t come as expected in two and a half years, but at the same time, there are two years left on a contract worth 3.4 million bucks – still quite valuable – after this season. It is clear that the citizen of Pori does not have an endless amount of time to find improvements to his game.
However, the player himself does not overreact to the situation by, for example, worrying or hoping for player trade issues.
– In no way have I thought that this card has somehow been looked at. I am now focusing on this group. We have a really good team and there is a really good atmosphere here. Nothing like that has ever crossed my mind, Armia assured.
Montreal started the season well, winning 13 of their first 26 games, but has since slumped to the bottom of the series. It has lost nine of its ten previous games, including the last four by a goal difference of 8–26.
– We have a damn good team. We are going to win every game and yes we can beat anyone in this series, Armia decided.