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At the Rink blog

Markov practices with Habs in step toward return

Monday, 11.14.2011 / 2:06 PM

By Richard Milo - NHL.com Correspondent / At the Rink blog

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At the Rink blog
Markov practices with Habs in step toward return
BROSSARD, Que. -- Montreal Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov took another step toward an eventual return from knee surgery when he practiced with his teammates for the first time Monday morning.

Markov did not speak to reporters afterwards, but his presence at the morning skate was a big lift for his Canadiens teammates.

"It was nice to see him on the ice," defenseman P.K. Subban said. "He's a big part of our team."

Markov spent 60 minutes on the ice with his teammates skating in a non-contact jersey. He spent another 20 minutes skating on his own with the Canadiens' assistant coaches.

"We haven't established a timeline for his return but it's encouraging to see him skating with the team," coach Jacques Martin said. "We'll see if he skates tomorrow."

However, as far as the Canadiens' game tonight against the Buffalo Sabres is concerned, an important member of the Montreal defense will be absent as Hal Gill was ruled out with an illness.

Rookie Alexei Emelin will take Gill's spot next to Raphael Diaz on what becomes an extremely young Canadiens defense. After veterans Jaroslav Spacek and Josh Gorges, the combined experience of the other four Canadiens defensemen -- Subban, Emelin, Diaz and Yannick Weber -- is only 184 games.

"We'll need to keep things simple and play well away from the puck," Martin said.

Aside from the loss of Gill, the Canadiens will make no lineup changes from the group that won 2-1 in overtime in Nashville on Saturday night, meaning Scott Gomez will remain on a wing on the fourth line with Petteri Nokelainen.


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You don't see many. The [Drew] Doughtys, the [P.K.] Subbans, those are guys that create offense from the back and then on top of that ability, the size that he has. In the West you play against some pretty big players, and being able to clear the crease and contain the [Ryan] Getzlafs and the [Corey] Perrys and [Anze] Kopitars and players like that, we're excited about him going back there.

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