Phaneuf, Burke: Leafs' goal this season is to make playoffs Staff

9/7/2010 8:26:17 PM

It may not be that bold of a statement, but for a team that finished 29th out of 30 NHL squads last season, it's certainly a start.

Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said the team's objective for the 2010-11 campaign is to advance to the post-season.

"It's definitely a playoff team. Our goal going into the start of this year is to make the playoffs," said Phaneuf. "Anything short of that is unacceptable. We did a lot of good things at the end of last year, played some really good hockey, and with the additions we made over the summer, our goal definitely is to make the playoffs."

Phaneuf, the 25-year-old blueliner who was traded to Toronto from the Calgary Flames back in January, said the Leafs have been able to develop some chemistry and are pleased with the momentum and fresh faces on the roster heading into the new season.

"We learned a lot as a group. We're going to take what we learned, move forward and use that as experience going into this year," Phaneuf said. "We know that we have to get off to a good start and we're going to be a hard-working team night in and night out."

Leafs GM Brian Burke didn't make any concrete predictions or guarantees either, but he said he was happy to see healthy optimism from his roster.

"We use the 'P' word and it sets people off in this marketplace," Burke said. "That's our goal, that's our intention, no bold statements but for a player to say that I think is great."

So, after five straight seasons without a visit to the playoffs, there are no promises to bring home Lord Stanley's silver, nor are there any guarantees that the post-season is a lock, but the Leafs have said that hockey beyond the 82-game regular season schedule is their mission for this year.

It's a goal, and the Leafs will need more of those this year, as they tied for the fourth-least tallies in 2009-10 with 214. 

The team finished 30-38-14, and their 74 points put them above only the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL standings.

The blue and white's season kicks off on October 7 against the Montreal Canadiens in Toronto.