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Julien: 'He's a dominant player when he plays this way'

Forward Joel Armia is in the midst of the best season of his career in the NHL

by Pierre-Antoine Mercier, translated by Dan Braverman @CanadiensMTL /

BROSSARD - The Canadiens may be going through a rough patch right now, but the same can't be said for Joel Armia.

The 26-year-old winger has lit the lamp the past three games, and as a result, has hit the 10-goal mark for a fourth straight season. He's now tied for the team lead in goals with Brendan Gallagher.

The Finn's performance has not gone unnoticed in 2019-20.

"He's a dominant player when he plays that way. He's big and he's strong on the puck. He has good hands and a good shot. When he plays that way, you see that he can dominate," explained Claude Julien before Tuesday's game against the New York Islanders. "For sure, we'd like to see him play this way every game. He's still young and he's headed in the right direction. We're encouraging him to keep playing this way."

Video: Claude Julien's pregame press conference

After just 25 games, Armia is only four goals away from beating the career high he set last year in his first campaign in bleu-blanc-rouge.

His young teammate and countryman, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, acknowledges that it's been easy playing alongside the former 2011 Buffalo Sabres first-round pick (16th overall).

"I think everyone in this locker room or in this world would look pretty good beside him at the moment," praised Kotkaniemi, who will play his 100th career game on Tuesday at the Bell Centre. "He's playing pretty great hockey now and he's doing a hell of a job on the ice."

Video: Jesperi Kotkaniemi on Joel Armia

Peca to face the Islanders

Fresh off a recall from the Laval Rocket, forward Matthew Peca will be in the Canadiens lineup against the Islanders.

It'll be Peca's first game with the Habs since March 30 against the Jets in Winnipeg.

The Petawawa, ON native has been having some success of late with the Canadiens' farm club, as he was riding a six-game points streak when he got the call-up.

Julien hopes to see Peca play with the same confidence he's found in Laval.

"Peca is going to bring something different to the fourth line. He's a guy who was playing well in Laval. We've always liked the way he skates," outlined the veteran bench boss. "We hope he comes here with the same confidence he had in Laval and continues to show it with us."

The Tampa Bay Lightning's seventh-round pick (201st overall) in 2011 will be taking Charles Hudon's spot on the fourth line and in the lineup.

In Peca's own view, his time with Joel Bouchard's squad was hugely beneficial.

"I got to play more and work on different parts of my game. I had more opportunities and responsibilities," expressed Peca, who had four goals for 12 points in 18 games before his recall. "Obviously, it won't be the same thing here, but I still want to be ready for any situation."

Video: Matthew Peca on his call-up from the Rocket

The Canadiens are celebrating the 110th anniversary of the franchise by holding a Captains' Reunion just before the game against the New York Islanders gets underway at the Bell Centre. To mark the occasion, 11 former captains will take part in the pregame ceremony. The current players will be wearing warmup jerseys each honoring a different legendary player in the organization with personal significance to them. For tickets to the game, click here.

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