In his six seasons with the Blue Jackets Umberger has missed five games to injury and never has been a healthy scratch.
But he also added the decision had something to do with Umberger's play.
"He's been OK but I think there's more," Richards said. "I think he can be better."
Atkinson appears better suited to face the fast-skating Canadiens, and Richards believes he will have a lot to offer after sitting out the previous game.
"I think he's going to be a motivated guy who wants to come back and be in the lineup," Richards said. "He's a guy that provides a lot of speed on the wing and a guy that's scored 18 goals for us."
Umberger also has 18 goals this season, tied with Atkinson for third on the Blue Jackets. He also is seen as a Canadiens killer because of a magical Stanley Cup Playoff series in 2008 when he played with the Philadelphia Flyers and scored eight goals in five games to help eliminate Montreal in the second round.
In 17 career regular-season games against the Canadiens Umberger has six goals and three assists.
The Canadiens will be missing forward Brandon Prust, who had a goal and an assist in a 6-3 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. Prust went to the dressing room for several minutes in the first period of that game after taking a hit from defenseman Tyson Barrie but eventually returned to the game.
Prust skated for a few minutes Thursday morning before leaving the ice.
Here are the probable lineups for the Blue Jackets and Canadiens:
Injured: Ryan Murray (knee)