Young Buds show grit

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

TORONTO -- For a glorified minor-league team going nowhere, the Toronto Maple Leafs are still putting up a pretty good fight.

Which is good news for the blue bloods who continue to shell out big bucks for tickets, but bad news for those starving members of Leafs Nation who are hoping the blue and white will tank and drop in the standings, thereby securing a good chance at a high draft pick.

Last night, against a tired Calgary Flames team, the Leafs demonstrated again they are not interested in breezing through to the end of the season, fighting -- somewhat literally -- to a wild 8-6 win and robbing Calgary goaltender Mikka Kiprusoff of his 200th NHL victory. The eight goals were the most by the Leafs this season.

"We still want to win every game and try to keep moving up in the standings as much as we can," said Toronto forward Matt Stajan. "We've worked our whole lives to make the NHL and play for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"You're not going to give anything but your best. If you're not doing that, you don't deserve to be in this league, no matter what's at stake."

Still, the Leafs lineup as the season unwinds is certainly not going to strike fear in the hearts of many NHL opponents. Half the team coach Ron Wilson dressed last night are either NHL rookies or have spent considerable time in the minors this season.

In one of the more bizarre periods of the season, the Leafs jumped into a 3-0 lead in the first, the opening goal coming via a Jeff Finger wrist shot which deflected off of Calgary defenceman Robyn Regehr. Centre Daymond Langkow was then nailed with a four-minute double minor for high sticking and the Leafs capitalized twice.

Wilson gave the Flames credit for fighting back from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game at three.

"It's scary when you look at that many games in row on the road," said Wilson. "If you get off to a good start on a road trip, that can be the best thing. You get off to a bad start, it can be a harrowing experience. But most of the Western Conference teams are very used to that and they know how to handle that."


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