After being a healthy scratch for the past two games, forward Lars Eller will be back in the Canadiens line up on Sunday when they play the New Jersey Devils at the Bell Centre.
Coach Michel Therrien said he made the decision on Friday before he found out that Max Pacioretty has flu-like symptoms.
Pacioretty missed Saturday’s practice and Eller practised in his place on the line with Erik Cole and David Desharnais. Therrien said Pacioretty has a slight fever and would be re-evaluated on Sunday.
While they want internal competition on the team, Therrien said he doesn’t want it to become unhealthy.
“It’s got to be a healthy competition,” Therrien said. “I believe in team spirit. (Eller’s) part of the team. He’s a young man that we care (about) and want him to be better….It’s our job to make sure that he’s going to get better.”
Defenceman Tomas Kaberle left practice early on Saturday after being hit in the face with a puck. “We’ll see tomorrow,” was all Therrien said when asked about him by one reporter.
Sunday’s game will also feature two Giontas–Canadiens captain Brian Gionta and his younger brother Stephen who plays for the Devils.
Gionta said he watched the Devils’ 3-2 overtime victory over the Capitals on Friday. His brother scored in the first period.
“As long as he doesn’t score tomorrow night we’re all right,” he said.
They had one chance to play against each other a few years ago and it was “extremely fun,” Gionta said. “Tomorrow night will be his first game here so I’m sure he’ll have quite the experience.”
Their parents are in Montreal, Gionta said. “They don’t care what happens tomorrow night, I guess,” he laughed.