"We will start him on the fourth line and gauge his progress," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien told the media following his team's morning skate. "Physically, he is ready to go, it's just a matter of him getting used to the pace of the game, considering the fact that we haven't had too much practice time recently due to our busy schedule."
Therrien also told the media that forward George Parros is doing better and has been riding the stationary bike. Parros sustained his second concussion of the season in a fight with New York Islanders forward Eric Boulton during the Canadiens' 1-0 overtime win Saturday at New York.
The Coyotes, meanwhile, are beginning what they're viewing as a crucial four-game road trip out east that will also see them make stops at the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators and then the Buffalo Sabres before heading home for the Christmas break. After a 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes at home on Saturday, they know there's no better way to bounce back than with a win at the always boisterous Bell Centre.
"Everyone who's played here loves playing here, and when you can come in here and use the energy to your advantage and come out with a win, that's a big confidence booster," defenseman Keith Yandle said. "We know we're better than the last game and this is a big trip for us, so a win tonight gets it going."
Rookie defenseman Connor Murphy has never skated at Bell Centre and though he was excited for the new experience he was also focused on the task at hand.
"It's always fun to come into places like this for the first time," Murphy said. "But I need to focus on the game and what we need to do for a win. I'll be excited for sure, but more excited if we get a win."
Western Conference teams have had their way with the East this season, going 123-53-22 collectively. The Coyotes aren't taking anything for granted when it comes to that, but rather they're using the competitive conference and more specifically the Pacific Division as a reason to stay on their toes whether they're playing within the conference or against Eastern teams.
"We play in a very hard division but we think that makes us a better team also," coach Dave Tippett said. "We have to be competitive and we have been competitive most of the year. Most teams have a few injuries here and there that you go through but you have to get points and in our division you can never have any lapses, you gotta keep collecting points."
Here’s how the lineups should look for the Coyotes and Canadiens:
Injured: George Parros (concussion)