Andrei Markov put in a full practice with the Canadiens this morning for the first time since he was checked into the boards by Matt Cooke in game one of the Pittsburgh series two weeks ago.  He was paired with his regular late-season partner Ryan O’Byrne.

It will be long after the playoffs end before we find out what really is wrong with Markov’s knee. Looking at replays of the Matt Cooke check in game one of the Pittsburgh series my first suspicion was a severe bruise caused by the knee slamming against the boards laterally.  But, there was also  indication of a wrenching motion as he was hit that  can lead to ligament damage.  However severe, it was painful, witness Markov’s reaction when he hit the ice.    (Form your own opinion  in the video below)  

Since then there have been rumours, never officially confirmed or even commented-upon, that it was a ligament tear.  After a while persistent rumours become fact.  And so it was. 

However, there are varying levels of cruciate ligament damage.  One early indicator of the seriousness of this one, Markov was negotiating his way without crutches, which meant he did not suffer a complete tear if, in fact, there is a tear at all.  If  the injury is a mild tear, Markov’s knee would feel unstable or seem to “give way” when using it.  Hence his, and the team doctor’s caution in trying it on the ice. 

Current knee-brace technology can take away some of the instability.  After that, for Markov, it has probably been more an matter of confidence then anything else.  And, in the end he, and  he alone, will make the decision on whether he plays or not.