Happy to help

Thursday, 26.03.2009 / 12:00 PM / News
canadiens.com
MONTREAL – Defensemen are often some of the best passers. In staying a bit behind, they tend to have a better look at how the game is unfolding and the strengths in front of them.  Canadiens fans have the perfect example right under their very own eyes.

Andrei Markov, an eight-year NHL and Montreal veteran, exemplifies the role of the offensive defenseman.  After flirting with Top 10 status in assists in 2006-07 (43) and 2007-08 (42), the Habs’ reigning Iron Man – he hasn’t missed a game since the end of the 2006-07 campaign - is knocking on the door to 50 this year. 

One he reaches the mark, Markov will move past Mark Streit and Larry Robinson’s 49-assist efforts in 2007-08 and 1982-83, respectively, and claim the final spot among the Canadiens’ top 10 blue line assist leaders in a single season.  And, his potential climb up the ladder to sixth place is a short one. It’ll take just 53 helpers to get there, where he’ll find himself behind only Larry Robinson and Chris Chelios, who are locked in positions 1-5.

The 1976-77 season turned out to be a remarkable one for Robinson, as it was for just about the entire Canadiens squad.  The Hall of Famer racked up 66 assists and 85 points en route to the team’s 20th Stanley Cup, earning him top spot in both categories.

Another Stanley Cup campaign once again earned “Big Bird” yet another rank on the all-time list, amassing 63 helpers in 1985-86 for second place.  He would round out his career years with 61 assists in 1979-80.

Chris Chelios owns fourth and fifth place, with 58 in 1988-89 and 55 in 1984-85, respectively.

Just a pair of assists shy of 50, Markov could become the first Canadiens defenseman in 20 years to reach the plateau. His constant ascension up the Habs’ ranks has had an impact in the NHL as well. The 30-year old has climbed from 40th in the league in 2003-04, to 19th in 2005-06, ninth in 2006-07, and up to seventh last season. This year, his incredible vision and passing skills have vaulted him to the top of the list among league defenseman, with eight games still remaining on the regular season schedule.

Heather Engel is a writer for canadiens.com

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