McKenzie in Sens' corner

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 5:30 PM ET


 Bob McKenzie is no fool.

 But the TSN hockey insider realizes some folks might think so when they hear he's picking the Ottawa Senators to knock off the Toronto Maple Leafs in their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series.

 "There's no logical reason to do it," admitted McKenzie, who also sees the Sens reaching the Stanley Cup final. "You have to be very brave or very foolish to pick them to go to the final. I guess I'll settle for being foolish."

 McKenzie watched the Sens come within a goal of the Cup final last season, and considers a vanquishing of the Leafs "the next logical step" in the franchise's progress.

 "If Ottawa is Superman, then the Maple Leafs are kryptonite," he said. "We saw Ottawa come a long way last year, but this is the equivalent of Ottawa having to slay the dragon.

 "Either they exorcise their demons and get to the final, or they go out in their first round and it's a pretty big setback for the organization."

 CUP WINNERS HELP LEAFS

 Count Pierre McGuire among those who see it a completely different way. The TSN game analyst sees huge edges for the Leafs in the faceoff circle and in net, and believes the additions of defenceman Brian Leetch and forwards Joe Nieuwendyk and Ron Francis -- Cup winners all -- pushed Toronto past its provincial rival.

 "This is a team that's firing on all cylinders," McGuire said of the Leafs. "They weren't doing that when they faced Philadelphia last year (and lost in the first round).

 "This year, they're far more structured and more reliable in terms of their consistency."

 The same can't be said of the Senators, he added.

 "You look at the way they competed in some of those games they didn't win," said McGuire. "A lot of changes need to be made in the next (three) days if they're going to upset Toronto."

 But McGuire doesn't put a lot of stock in the Leafs' 6-0 pounding of the Senators at the Corel Centre on Saturday.

 "It wasn't a question of Toronto being that much better. It was a question of Ottawa being so tired and worn out," he said, referring to the Sens' road-heavy March schedule.

 "If you're an elite team, you shouldn't have to play 14 of your last 19 games on the road. That's something that needs to be addressed (by Senators management) with the league."


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