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Pierre McGuire's Breakdown
New Jersey    Toronto 
"Balance" best describes the Devils on offense. One line can really light you up, though -- Jason Arnott, Patrik Elias, and Petr Sykora. They cycle the puck as well as any line in the league, and the elusive Czech-born players in transition make them tough to defend. Bobby Holik cannot yet be discounted as a goal scorer and Alexander Mogilny could really thrive against Toronto. He likes to play teams that trade rushes. Bottom line: the Devils can beat you with sledgehammer-like toughness, or the refined skill of a surgeon.  OFFENSE

The Edge:
  

The quick-strike attack of the Leafs was splendid vs. the Senators. Sergei Berezin, Mats Sundin and Steve Thomas (who was cast off by the Devils two years ago) were outstanding. The Leafs didn't show much other scoring punch however -- Yanic Perreault and Nik Antropov were out early, and neither will be back for this series. Toronto likes to try and score off the rush. If you give Thomas or Berezin even a little bit of room coming down the wing, LOOK OUT, these guys are pure gunners. 

Everybody knows about Scott Stevens and his physical game, but he has a partner in Brian Rafalski who can play as well as most guys in the league. They shut down Pavel Bure, so look for them to play against the Sundin-Thomas-Jonas Hoglund line most of the series. The enigmatic Vlad Malakhov -- acquired from the Canadiens for Sheldon Souray, a prospect and a draft choice before the trade deadline -- has adjusted nicely to Larry Robinson and his assistant Slava Fetisov. A possible game-breaker for the Devils is Scott Niedermayer, whose speed and willingness to jump into the rush make him lethal.  DEFENSE

The Edge:
  

The Leafs struggled defensively down the stretch, but they showed in the first round that they could tighten up in their own zone. Jot down this name: Danny Markov. This guy is a warrior. He has grit, skills, toughness and a fearless love of the game -- a pleasure to watch. Tomas Kaberle and Dimitri Yushkevich can lay a lick on anyone with their heads down. Perhaps the weak link on defense for the Leafs will be the pairing of Gerald Diduck and Cory Cross. They're gamers, and they are big, but their foot speed isn't as good as it will need to be against New Jersey. 

Martin Brodeur is BACK, and he proved it in Game 4 against Florida. Much like Joseph, he doesn't need a ton of goals to give his team a chance. He is outstanding athletically and amazing with the puck. For someone of his stature, however, Brodeur has been haunted this season by a number of long-shot goals.  IN GOAL

The Edge:
  None  

Curtis Joseph is special. A great example of his prowess is what he pulled off in Game 5 vs. the Senators -- he stood on his head to keep a one-goal game that Toronto won in OT. He also handles the puck very well, a factor that should not be forgotten. This matchup could decide the series, but before it starts, there is no edge. 

The Devils possess the skill and the size to make life very tough on the Leafs. New Jersey loves to keep a presence in the slot, which will force the Leafs' defense and Curtis Joseph to work harder than they did against Ottawa. This power play is dangerous because Arnott can rip the puck from the point with his heavy and accurate shot while Claude Lemieux and Randy McKay make things interesting down low. Malakhov can also hammer you with his shot.  PP

The Edge:
   

The Leafs aren't nearly as effective as they would like to be. The fact that their defensemen have trouble getting pucks through from the point hurts. That's probably why you see forward Igor Korolev on the point. Pay attention to Berezin, who's never seen a shot he doesn't like. With the additional time and space of the power play he loves to tee it up. Jonas Hoglund needs to be better this series, as he is always on the ice with Sundin and Thomas. 

They rely on the best pure penalty killer going, John Madden -- no, not the ex-football coach. This Madden has speed, skill and smarts. He is a shorthanded terrorist. The Devils excel here because of their defensive intensity and sound structure. Stevens and Ken Daneyko clear the crease as well as any defensemen in the league, and Brodeur knows it when he comes out to challenge shooters.  PK

The Edge:
   

Some guys deserve more credit for what they do on the penalty kill -- especially Kevyn Adams and Gary Valk. Toronto held Ottawa to a pair of power-play goals all series, despite facing two five-on-three situations in consecutive games. The Leafs are very good at winning the initial draw, getting the puck out of the zone, then deploying aggressive up-ice pressure. 

Larry Robinson has done a wonderful thing in New Jersey: He has made hockey fun again. And because the players like him, Robinson can motivate them to play even harder. Robinson also has the luxury of rolling four lines (Quinn does not) and he can apply what he learned from his days of playing under Scotty Bowman and working with Jacques Lemaire.  COACH

The Edge:
   

Pat Quinn does a masterful job with the press and in getting under a referee's skin. In the first round, he shifted Sundin's line away from the Ottawa checkers by giving them shifts that lasted 90-95 seconds, and also by double-shifting that group. Quinn will have to be even better in series, though, because his team has been weakened by injuries. 

Play along the boards is important; team speed, for which the Devils don't receive enough credit; physical presence, that crushing hitting ability makes the Devils better then most teams on many nights.  INTANGIBLES

The Edge:
   

Instant offense; face-offs, where Adams must come up large (the burden is too much for Sundin alone); puck possession; and tough guy Tie Domi, who won't have the free pass he had most of round one. 

Madden and the super-quiet, but very solid, Jay Pandolfo. These guys really make the lives of star players miserable -- just ask Pavel Bure. Scott Stevens will play a huge role in this series.  X-FACTOR

The Edge:
   

Super pest Darcy Tucker tired out near the end of the first round, which can't happen in this one. Young Adam Mair is not only efficient, but also smart, and he'll need to be to help physically. 
McGuire's Prediction: New Jersey in 5
 
Pierre McGuire is a former NHL head coach and a regular contributor to Sports Illustrated and CNNSI.com.


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