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Andrei Markov #79 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrates his assist on a goal against the New York Rangers during their game on March 16, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Al Bello/2010 Getty Images

Hey, look who's back!

The news that Andrei Markov is nearing a return should ease the angst of some of the Nervous Nellies out there in Habs nation, but whether he returns soon enough to make a proper difference is still anyone's guess.

The fact is, the Habs need to put a bullet in the Plekanec-at-the-point power-play experiment, and soon - Montreal has given up as many short-handed goals as they've scored five-on-four this season (as per Frankie Gagnon of La Presse who went back and checked), which takes some doing. Not all of them have been the result of having their top centre play out of position, but let's just say it doesn't help.

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Our guess, based on nothing more than conjecture, is that Markov will need to practice for at least a full week, more likely two, before he gets anywhere close to a game, let alone to quarterbacking the power-play full time.

And if Markov is feeling better, some of his teammates are feeling worse. Hal Gill could miss out in Monday's game against Buffalo at the Bell Centre with an unspecified problem, and Andrei Kostitsyn is still nursing an injury, reportedly a groin. Add the fact that guys like Mike Cammalleri, Max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban are hobbled by various niggles, and you have plenty of upper-lip sweat to go around as the Habs embark on a week that sees them play four times this week (there's a midweek back-to-back against Carolina and the Islanders, and the Rangers are in Montreal on Saturday).

At least three of the games are at home, where Montreal has been nearly unbeata- oh wait, never mind.

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