For the seventh straight year, Toronto Maple Leafs fans will have to do without cheering their team on in the postseason. Despite a late season push, the hole they had dug themselves in November and December proved to be too much to overcome.
The Leafs started the season on fire, winning four straight games, but swiftly fell back down to earth, as the Leafs mustered just one win in their next 12. The team continued to struggle for the next few months until the All-Star break, when they turned it around.
After dealing away veteran defensemen Tomas Kaberle and Francois Beauchemin, as well as talented winger Kris Versteeg, the Leafs became a better team.
Dion Phaneuf gained confidence. Keith Aulie became a dependable D-man. It seemed that everything was in place for a miracle playoff run, and while the Leafs held up their end of the bargain, the teams they were chasing went on nice runs of their own.
While not making the playoffs, a number of bright spots did emerge in the final two months that the Leafs hope they can build upon heading into the 2011-12 season. There are, however, a number of question marks and plenty of uncertainty for the Blue and White heading into next season.