For now, Leafs ride offence

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

Despite the occasional coach's lecture to the contrary, for Maple Leafs players this is not merely a season-long semester of the Ron Wilson Hockey School.

Yes, they are committed to learning and to the disciplined system being administered by Wilson and his staff. But they're not going to take losing lying down, even if it is part of the process to becoming a competitive team.

"We all take pride in trying to win every game," said forward John Mitchell, who broke out with the first two goals of his NHL career in the Leafs' 5-2 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday. "No one likes to lose, especially on this team. If we lose, we're pissed, we're disappointed. We have high expectations for ourselves."

The Leafs, who had won four of their previous five before falling 6-4 to the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday, have improved offensively in their past three games, scoring 14 times.

"It's nice to get over that mental hump," Leafs forward Nik Antropov said.

"When you are not scoring, you can be hard on yourself. We just have to feed off (the last few games) and gain more confidence from it."

Centre Matt Stajan says none of the Leafs have been lulled into thinking they are playing for an offensive juggernaut.

"When you are scoring goals, confidence builds," Stajan said. "Right now they are going in, but we can't change. It's not just going to keep happening. We've got to keep working for it."

Of more pressing concern for Wilson is a return to the tight defence the team had shown earlier.

Carolina, for example, had scored just three times in its previous four games before beating Curtis Joseph for five (and an empty-netter).

"I don't want you to think we're going to score five or six goals every night," Wilson said. "We've got some lucky bounces ourselves. We just have to try to get the game a little bit more under control."


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