|Pierre McGuire's Breakdown|
|This team can score off the rush as well as any in the league. Center
Mats Sundin is the key because his speed backs defensemen way off the blue line.
Leafs defensemen contribute as well. They love to join the rush.
| Surprisingly they scored a good number of goals this year (244) without
Alexei Yashin. Marian Hossa's offensive role will increase, as Shawn McEachern
will miss the playoff opener. Expect Daniel Alfredsson to have a big series.
| Still looking for a defensive identity other than Curtis Joseph. What
will hurt them is an inability to guard against the cycle. Gerald Diduck needs
to be more of a physical force on the blue line.
| Great scheme on defense causes lots of neutral-zone turnovers, and can
suffocate opponents in the offensive zone. Their only flaw is over-playing down
low, which leads to point shots against them. Wade Redden and Jason York must
keep Sundin in check.
| CuJo is the man, and Glenn Healy is a fantastic backup. The Leafs need
Joseph to bring back his previous playoff magic.
|| IN GOAL
| He may not win any popularity contests, but Tom Barrasso will win playoff games. What Barrasso does that's so overlooked is break down
forechecks with magnificent puckhandling.
| They do a great job of coming through the neutral zone with speed and
creating scoring chances off the rush. Sergei Berezin is a lethal sniper, and
Sundin loves to play with all the extra room he gets.
| Not nearly as skilled as the Toronto group, but they can get action
going on the PP because of the unit's structure. One key is Chris Phillips. His
presence in the slot should not be overlooked.
| Yanic Perreault is important for them, as is Kevyn Adams. Similar to
the Sabres in that their goalie is their best penalty killer -- and the biggest
reason for their success in this area.
| Outstanding on the PK, especially when they have Joe Juneau and Andreas
Dackell working together. This team has great weak-side rotation so they can
really pressure the puck down low in their own zone and take away opponents'
time and space.
| Pat Quinn is loved by his players, which means Quinn can get them to
compete hard on most nights. Still, the tough-as-nails defense Quinn played back
in his day is sorely lacking on this team.
| Struggled a little down the stretch, but Saturday's win in Montreal --
as the Canadiens were fighting for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot --
shows they are capable of shutting teams down.
| Toronto's skill players have the ability to back your defense right
into the goal. One of the players who has taken advantage of this is Steve
Thomas, who will sometimes come late in the rush and blast pucks right past
| Few teams in the league force as many turnovers as the Senators. Foot
speed and discipline are huge factors for this team.
|Sundin has got to have a big series, and the team should use the Bryan
Berard tragedy as a motivating factor. Perreault has been lethal on faceoffs and
that cannot change.
| Depth on the third and fourth lines makes this team dangerous,
especially when you have to play every other night. As good as Perreault has
been on draws for Toronto, Shaun Van Allen has been just as good for the
|McGuire's Prediction: Ottawa in 7|