MONTREAL – Andrei Markov was in vintage form against the Panthers.
After undergoing two ACL reconstructive surgeries in as many years and spending more time talking about his rehab than his highlight-reel plays over the past two seasons, Markov appears to have gotten his All-Star groove back. Having gone 805 days since his last goal – dating back to Nov. 9, 2010 – the 34-year-old was conspicuously present on the scoresheet on Tuesday night, racking up two power goals in his night’s work.
Having nurtured a baby-faced Markov during the young blue-liner’s first three NHL seasons, Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien knows exactly what the 12-year vet can bring to the table.
“What a leader. Andrei is the type of guy who feels the best when he’s on the ice; that’s where he expresses himself. That’s where he has fun,” explained the Habs bench boss, who previously coached Markov during Therrien’s first stint with the team, from 2000-01 to 2002-03. “The way he plays, he controls the game and he was able to shut down big players on the other side. He’s got a great attitude and works so hard.”
Wiring two almost-identical shots past Scott Clemmensen to score his first and second goals of the season was impressive, but that’s not the only thing about Markov’s play that caught his coach’s eye.
“He was great offensively, obviously, scoring two goals, but he’s so good at both ends of the ice,” described Therrien of the two-time All-Star, who currently owns a plus-27 differential in 637 career NHL games played. “He controls the play and he’s been playing so well with [Alexei] Emelin. I love those two together; the communication between them is great. It’s a lot easier for them to communicate together; I’m still working on it but my Russian isn’t quite ‘there’ yet!”
That suits Markov just fine; he prefers to let his play do his talking anyway.
“It’s not just about me; the whole team played great. We were putting pucks on the net and it was a good team effort,” stressed Markov of the Canadiens’ 4-1 win over the Panthers. “I’m happy to be back and I’m happy to be healthy. I’m just enjoying playing here in front of our fans. We have to continue the same way and we have to be even better.”
Markov would be hard-pressed to improve on his impressive performance from Tuesday night. In fact, the crafty defenseman had a tough time even recalling the last time he scored two goals in a single game.
“I guess just in my dreams,” joked Markov, whose actual most recent two-goal night was on Dec. 19, 2009 against the Islanders. “I’m not a big shooter, but I just tried to put it on net and it ended up being a goal.”
According to fellow 2009 All-Star Game starter Carey Price, what Markov does isn’t actually that easy – he just makes it look that way.
“It takes a special player to be able to pick corners through three or four guys in front of the net,” confirmed Price. “You can tell his confidence with the puck is there. He’s patient with it, he’s finding open guys and he’s getting pucks on net. Basically, he’s doing exactly what you expect from Andrei Markov.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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