6 Biggest Keys to Toronto Maple Leafs Being a Contender This Season

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6 Biggest Keys to Toronto Maple Leafs Being a Contender This Season
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images
Phil Kessel is one of the keys to Toronto's playoff hopes.

Maybe it was the 2004-05 lockout that turned the Toronto Maple Leafs into pretenders.

The year before that non-season, the Toronto Maple Leafs were a playoff team. They beat the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round in six games, before dropping a second-round series against the Ottawa Senators in seven games.

But since returning, the Leafs have not been back to the playoffs.

Perhaps nothing was worse than last year's collapse. For the first two-thirds of the season, the Leafs looked like a sure postseason entrant, but a brutal late-season slide kept them on the outside once again.

General manager Brian Burke fired head coach Ron Wilson at the height of the carnage and replaced him with Randy Carlyle for the final 18 games.

When the lockout comes to an end, the Leafs are going to have to show significant improvement in several areas. Here are six keys to the Leafs making the playoffs in 2012-13.

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