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Canadiens’ Armia game-time decision for G1

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Montreal Canadiens forward Joel Armia is traveling to Tampa on a private jet and will be a game-time decision for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, interim coach Luke Richardson said Monday.

Armia did not travel with the team originally as he was in the COVID-19 protocol. By announcing he could be available Monday night, Richardson implied that Armia had tested negative to clear the protocol.

“He got clearance, so we’re excited to have him join us,” Richardson said. “But we’ll have to make all those decisions around game time because we don’t know when everybody’s getting here and who will be ready.”

Montreal’s coach, Dominique Ducharme, has been isolated from the team since Game 3 of the semifinal series with positive COVID tests. Ducharme is expected to rejoin the bench for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final after serving a full 14 days of quarantine.

Armia was not at Monday’s morning skate at Amalie Arena. Instead, Jake Evans took rushes on Armia’s usual spot on the Habs’ fourth line, alongside Corey Perry and Eric Staal. According to Richardson, Evans will also be a game-time decision.

Evans has not played since suffering a concussion in Game 1 of the second-round series against the Winnipeg Jets on June 2. Evans was stretchered off the ice after absorbing a high hit from Jets forward Mark Scheifele, who was suspended four games for the play.

“I think there’s always probably awareness when anyone comes back from an injury, and you know you’re going to protect yourself,” Richardson said. “But I think a hockey player’s instinct is you play the game and you play the way you play it. And Jake’s a guy that plays the game hard.”

Armia was also on the NHL’s COVID protocol earlier this season, and he was out of the Montreal lineup from March 22 to April 10 after testing positive for a variant of the coronavirus. The Canadiens had four games postponed due to COVID-19 around the same time.

Armia is tied for the team lead with five goals this postseason and has eight points in 17 games. Evans scored one goal — an empty-netter preceding Scheifele’s hit — in four games this postseason.


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