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The silent assassin

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL – If he wasn’t an NHL defenseman, Andrei Markov could have a promising career as a mime or a ninja. Rarely one to make a sound, the talented Russian lets his play do the talking.

Fresh off his second-straight All-Star game appearance, Markov is once again having the type of season that will only help cement his place among the league’s elite blue-liners.

Before immersing himself into All-Star Weekend, Markov also went where no defenseman in Canadiens history had gone before. By assisting on Matt D’Agostini’s goal against the Devils in New Jersey last Wednesday, Markov extended his current assist streak to eight games, eclipsing Hall-of-Famer Larry Robinson’s previous club benchmark of seven games.

In addition, that same assist on D’Agostini’s goal also allowed Markov to reach the 30-assist mark for a fourth straight season, making him only the fifth Habs rearguard to ever manage the feat. Markov now sits comfortably with the legendary likes of Doug Harvey, Serge Savard, Guy Lapointe and Robinson, who had a 14-season run with 30 or more helpers.

The assist in question also gave Markov 37 points in 46 games this season, just ahead of Robert Lang for the club lead. Defensemen leading their teams in points hardly grow on trees. Since 1995-96, only three d-men have ended a season atop their club’s scoring heap: Brian Leetch of the New York Rangers in 2000-01, Dick Tarnstrom of the Penguins in 2003-04 and the Kings’ Lubomir Visnovsky in 2005-06.

What the 30-year-old blue-liner is trying to accomplish this season is rare to say the least. Something about as uncommon as drafting an All-Star defenseman 162nd overall at an NHL Draft, which is exactly what the Habs did with Markov in the summer of 1998.

Manny Almela is a writer on
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