Can Habs' Markov Be Expected To Be The Team's Miracle Man ?

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Patience, if Habs' fans have any left, will be required, as Markov is returning to a lineup he is quite unfamiliar with. Discounting exhibition games this past autumn, Markov has played all of 40 minutes this season and there are seven or eight new elements on the team, as well as a new coach, that he has not had time to become accustomed to.

Markov's level of skill foresees that he should quickly become acquainted with Mike Cammalleri, who has essentially upgraded Alex Kovalev on the Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn duo. It is in that regard that a more immediate impact will be expected and felt.

On the power play, it wil be curious to see if he is employed with Marc - Andre Bergeron at his side, or whether he makes the latter's inclusion as a top 6 defenseman on the team somewhat redundant.

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Bergeron could see action dressing as a seventh defenseman while getting PP time and work as a fourth line forward.

Coach Martin has stated that Markov could very well make his entrance with Ryan O' Byrne as a partner, a move that resembles his duties alongside the not so mobile Mike Komisarek. Time will dictate if that idea sticks but if such an experiment works, it allows the duo of Roman Hamrlik and Jaroslav Spacek to remain intact with reduced minutes and workload hopefully alleviating their burden. An unhappy sitter will be found in either of Hal Gill or Paul Mara as Josh Gorges remains a sure bet for the third pairing.

As is often the case with players returning from injury, adrenaline will play a part in what should be an exciting and interesting first few games for Markov. There will be setbacks and a slew of rough games, as he's jumping onto the train in mid season, at a time when scheduled games as brisk.

That Markov has his sights set on joining the Russian club for the 2010 Olympics as much as he is invigorated to rejoin the Habs can only be a good thing.

Let us hope that his return is not a moment too late.

It is often said of elite players that they make everyone on the ice with them better players. In the case of the Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov, returning tonight against the Islanders from a season long injury, is it too much to expect him to turn the Habs' season around?

A player of Markov's talent cannot help but have a certain impact, as his contribution in minutes spills from 5 on 5 play to the powerplay unit and to the penalty kill. Markov in top form plays upwards of 25 minutes per game, which alleviates a burden of responsibility from his defensive mates.

Once Markov returns to form, which should honestly taken a dozen games as the rest of the league is in mid season form, he should drastically improve the Canadiens' transition game as he has been known to do in the past.

It could be a case of too little too late, despite the fact that he is returning way ahead of schedule.

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