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Habs gear up for the old enemy Add to ...

Before the talk radio machine gets all revved up, Max Pacioretty is "still not close" to resuming practice with the team, even if he skated on Monday with the injured Jeff Halpern and Andrei Markov.

Nor are Markov or Josh Gorges, who told our colleague Rick Moffatt of CJAD that he hopes to be back on skates in the next few days - money quote from Jacques Martin: "both Markov and Gorges are out for the season, they won't be back until next year."

As for Pacioretty, Martin said "he's following the protocol, and is still at the beginning of his rehabilitation."

So that's that.

As for the players who are actually at the practice complex, including goalie Carey Price, who had the day off from practice (Ryan White left after taking a puck in the face but will be on the ice back tomorrow), it was time to start preparing for the Original Six grudge match against the Bruins, a series that starts on Thursday.

"This is why I signed up for hockey all those years ago," said winger Michael Cammallieri, who scored an NHL-best 13 playoff goals in last year's run to the conference finals.

There are too many subplots to enumerate - Chara/Pacioretty, 80 years of bad blood between the teams, etc. - but the Habs are clearly jazzed about facing the Bruins.

"This is one of the great rivalries in sports," said Martin, who is among the 20 or so Habs coaches and players who have yet to experience Montreal/Boston in the playoffs.

Though the mood was loose at practice, there is a quiet confidence in the Habs' room, and the expectations game has already begun - the Habs are embracing the underdog mantle.

"They're the first place team, so that has to make them the favourites, doesn't it?" smiled winger Travis Moen.

The 33rd playoff meeting between these teams should be a beauty.

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