Many people, including Berger, believe the Leafs D was responsible for the 9th place finish in the east. I however believe many more things contributed to the Leafs woes.
1. Goaltending. This is a 2 part argument. On one hand, not only did Raycroft never steal a game, he on many occasions didn't give us a fair chance to win. Consider his GAA of shots high glove side was worst of any startig goalie in the NHL. Then consider his GAA of shots 15 feet away was worst of any starting goalie in the NHL. He allowed 10% of the shots he faced from 40-50 feet away. the next worse goalie was Cam Ward at 8%. The second part ofthis has to do with coaching. Raycroft played too many games. He was often tired, and had no time to work on his technique.
2. Fatigue. Maurice worked this team too hard too early in the season. those brutal conditioning stints burned them out late last season.
3. Penalties. The Leafs took too many dumb penalies, givng the other team more PK oppritunities. This is deadly when the guy who is supposed to be your best penalty killer is tired, and can't take a shot 50 feet away.
Consider the Leafs top 6 D combined for +37, and they were all in the plus. However other defensemn such as Bell, Woz, Belak, and Harrison combined for -25. Woz was only -1 in 15 games. So, as long as the leafs blueline corps can stay healthy, and Toskala can provide decent goaltending, the leafs should be fine defensiely... well, as fine as an offense only minded team can be I suppose.