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KEN CAMPBELL The Hockey News

Here's my strategy: I'm going to just keep picking the Ottawa Senators to win the Stanley Cup until they actually go out and do it. Of course that would require them to get beyond the second round without playing the role of, in the words of legendary Globe and Mail hockey columnist Dave Shoalts, "choking dogs." But why not this year? This may sound outrageous, but I really think that subtracting Zdeno Chara and replacing him with Joe Corvo and Tom Preissing is an upgrade for the Senators. If you don't believe me, just check out the tapes from last year's playoffs. Chara was awful.  Their forwards are still scary good and someday they're going to figure out that the NHL calendar goes beyond April 1. Can this team win with Daniel Alfredsson as its leader? Well, it hasn't so far, but people wondered the same thing about Steve Yzerman, too. In goal, the Senators are as solid as they've been in years. Sure, Martin Gerber lost his job in the playoffs to the guy with the second-worst save percentage in the league, but the fact remains he's a very good goalie and not as prone to breaking down and misleading his teammates as, say, Dominik Hasek, was. And don't forget that this year's Senators team is not carrying the weight of expectation anymore. After almost coming close to winning something, the Senators are viewed as a team on the downside of an almost-dynasty. It says here the role of underdog will suit them well. When the Senators are skating around the Palladium, er Corel Centre, er Scotiabank Place with the Stanley Cup in June, their transformation will be complete.

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