Nik has heard enough

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:47 AM ET

Maple Leafs forward Nik Antropov is usually pretty laid-back when it comes to talking about his game or his team's performance, whether they win or lose.

But yesterday, the nine-year veteran lost patience following a team off-ice workout a Lakeshore Lions Arena when the topic of the March 4 trade deadline reared it's ugly head, again.

General manager Brian Burke said on Thursday that trade talks are finally heating up, adding that he's had "a couple of interesting calls in the past 48 hours." Antropov is one of a handful of Leafs who may garner some interest from other teams, especially if he keeps playing like that way he did in Toronto's 7-4 win over the Colorado Avalanche in Denver on Thursday night.

Antropov snapped a 16-game goalless streak and has played well in the past two games. But it's obvious the big Kazakh doesn't want to hear any more trade talk.

"I've answered that so many times already. I'm not answering this again," he snapped. "As I said, I don't hear nothing in the dressing room. Guys don't talk about it."

Forward Alexei Ponikarovsky, defencemen Pavel Kubina and Tomas Kaberle and goaltender Vesa Toskala may also spark interest from other teams looking to bolster their lineups with the playoffs not far off.

One player whose stock has gone through the roof since the first 11 games of the season, when he was a healthy scratch, is defenceman Ian White, who leads the Leafs with a plus-3 (tied with injured Jeremy Williams) and has been steady in his own end, especially with the recent injuries to Mike Van Ryn and Jeff Finger.

White reiterated Antropov's suggestions that no one inside the dressing room is fretting over the looming deadline.

"It might be (a distraction) for some players, but it's never been a problem for myself," White said. "I don't worry about it, but you try to help other guys who may be worrying about it. But at the end of the day, it's out of our hands, and why waste time stressing about it when there's nothing you can do about it?"

Asked what advice he would offer a troubled teammate, White said: "Just show up everyday and do your job, enjoy being around your friends and spending time at the rink and getting to play the sport we love playing."

The Leafs will have to play hard if they expect to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at the Air Canada Centre on Doug Gilmour Night. The underachieving Pens are two points and two spots out of a playoff spot.

"We have to be sharp right form the get-go," said Leafs centre Matt Stajan. "They have two of the top scorers in the league (in Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby) and it's going to be a good test for us. It's always fun to play those games. And it's Doug Gilmour Night, so that's exciting."

"Hopefully, (Thursday's win) gives us a boost for the next few games," Antropov said."


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