Despite a five-game losing streak, the Montreal Canadiens have something to be grateful for this holiday season.
The club confirmed on Friday that injured defenceman Andrei Markov will make his return to the Canadiens lineup Saturday against the New York Islanders.
"He's been skating with the team for a while - we just needed the doctor's approval," said head coach Jacques Martin. "He's been on the ice and he's been practicing. I think it's nice to have him back."
"I feel pretty good, and I feel happy to come back. I'm going to do my best," said Markov. "I'm not the type of guy who wants to sit in the stands and watch a game. If I feel good and comfortable then I'd like to play."
It will be an welcome present for Markov, who celebrates his 31st birthday on Saturday.
The Habs have been without their superstar defenceman since their opening game of the season when he suffered lacerated tendons in his ankle following a collision with goaltender Carey Price in Toronto.
"He'll probably need a little bit of timing since he's missed quite a bit of the season," explained Martin. "To have a player with his skill will help our breakouts and should help our powerplay as well.
"It helps to lift the team, but at the same time everyone else has to do their job. It's such a team game, I think it will help certain facets of our game, but it remains that we have to work together," added Martin.
According to the original diagnosis, Markov was not expected to return to the Canadiens lineup until February; however he has been skating with the team for the past two weeks and stated recently that he was looking to work his way back by the New Year.
In 2008-09, Markov had 12 goals and 52 assists for a career-high 64 points in 78 games for Montreal.
Earlier Friday, the Canadiens returned defenceman Yannick Weber to Hamilton of the AHL to open a roster spot for the two-time All-Star game participant.