MONTREAL -- Forward RJ Umberger will be a healthy scratch for the Columbus Blue Jackets when they face the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Thursday.
In his six seasons with the Blue Jackets Umberger has missed five games to injury and never has been a healthy scratch.
Coach Todd Richards said the main motivation was to get speedy left wing Cam Atkinson into the lineup after he was scratched in a 3-1 loss at home to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday.
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.
Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said after practice Prust is day-to-day with an upper-body injury and Ryan White will take his spot at center on the fourth line against the Blue Jackets.
Defending Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky of the Blue Jackets will face Olympic gold medal winner Carey Price of the Canadiens in the goaltending matchup.
Here are the probable lineups for the Blue Jackets and Canadiens:
Boone Jenner - Ryan Johansen - Nathan Horton
Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno - Artem Anisimov - Corey Tropp
Derek MacKenzie - Mark Letestu - Blake Comeau
Fedor Tyutin - James Wisniewski
Jack Johnson - Dalton Prout
Nikita Nikitin - David Savard
Scratched: RJ Umberger, Nick Schultz, Matt Frattin, Jared Boll
Injured: Ryan Murray (knee)
Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Thomas Vanek
Daniel Briere - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher
Alex Galchenyuk - Lars Eller - Brian Gionta
Travis Moen - Ryan White - Dale Weise
Andrei Markov - Alexei Emelin
Francis Bouillon - P.K. Subban
Jarred Tinordi - Mike Weaver
Scratched: Douglas Murray, George Parros, Rene Bourque
Injured: Brandon Prust (upper body), Josh Gorges (hand)