Maple Leafs wrap up tough stretch with game against Penguins

Dion Phaneuf. (QMI Agency)

Dion Phaneuf. (QMI Agency)

Rob Longley, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:06 AM ET

When the Maple Leafs hop aboard their charter flight back from Pittsburgh late on Monday night, there is a chance they will do so with a sense of relief.

If they manage to get a point or more vs. the Eastern Conference leading Penguins, perhaps they will even embrace a sense of accomplishment.

For all the angst about their struggles and results recently, Monday's contest marks the conclusion of a five-game stretch that is as difficult as you could draw it up.

How tough? In receding order, the Leafs will have faced the Penguins, Blackhawks, Blues, Kings and Bruins - five of the top six favourites in current Las Vegas odds to win the Stanley Cup. There has been some good, bad and indifferent play along the way -- and just one victory in the first four legs of that journey.

But that lone win -- Saturday's 7-3 thumping of the reigning champion 'Hawks -- not only allowed the Leafs to breathe, but it may serve as an important gauge for them moving forward.


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