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Slumping Canucks kick off make-or-break road trip

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If the Vancouver Canucks are really a playoff team, now is the time to show it.

Otherwise — and this is the much more likely scenario — it’ll be time to start selling.

Five points back of a wild-card spot, the Canucks haven’t even looked close to playoff-caliber in their last three games, all regulation losses. And their next six are all on the road, starting tonight in Nashville.

Indeed, by the time the Canucks return home, the pressure on management to trade the likes of Jannik Hansen and Alex Burrows may have grown rather intense.

Which begs the question — will GM Jim Benning stand by his promise to not ask players to waive their no-trade clauses?

“We’re going to see where we’re at,” Benning told The Province ahead of the trip. “I’ll have individual conversations with those players and their agents, but we’re hoping we can stay in the fight. But it’s a tough trip.”

It sure is, with stops in Nashville, Columbus, Boston, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.

At least the Canucks will get Ben Hutton back tonight. Only Erik Gudbranson, Derek Dorsett, and Anton Rodin remain on the injured list now.

In other words, health cannot be used an excuse if the losing streak continues. If the Canucks can’t overcome the absence of those three, they just aren’t good enough.

Related: Decisions, decisions as Canucks fall out of playoff race

Dreading the work week? Watch this dog get ‘ice time’ with puck

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Life is difficult, complex and confusing. Good thing we have dog videos.

Forgive this video being one night late, but for those of us who watch cute animal clips, time is a furry circle. Or something like that.

Anyway, this golden retriever got a little “ice time” before the Washington Capitals’ game against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday in what would end up being a 4-1 win for the Caps. It’s an excellent video featuring a top-notch, hilarious pooch.

Alternate joke: Now that is some puck retrieval.

Patrik Laine’s out sick for Jets on Sunday

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Patrik Laine and Auston Matthews are locked with identical goals (34), assists (27) and points (61) on Sunday, which is remarkable since Laine has played in 67 games versus 75 for Matthews. He won’t get a chance to beef up his numbers on Sunday, either.

It looks like the high-scoring rookie is missing the Winnipeg Jets’ contest against the Vancouver Canucks because of an illness, according to TSN’s Sara Orlesky.

The Jets are almost assured to miss the playoffs, so seeing Laine lose a chance to bolster his Calder argument adds a little extra sadness to the night.

NHL schedules hearing for Micheal Haley’s sucker-punch on Calle Jarnkrok

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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced a Monday hearing for San Jose Sharks tough guy Micheal Haley for his “roughing/sucker punch” on Calle Jarnkrok of the Nashville Predators.

The league didn’t specify if Haley will face a telephone or in-person hearing on Monday afternoon. They did, interestingly, use the phrase “sucker punch” in that official announcement.

Haley received a match penalty during the game. Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer was highly upset about the hit that inspired Haley’s actions.

“When you run someone from behind in a game like that, you probably deserve to get a punch in the mouth,” DeBoer told reporters.

In other bad news for the Sharks, CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz reports that Logan Couture‘s situation isn’t looking promising after he was hurt on Sunday.

WATCH LIVE: Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins

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Yes, the Philadelphia Flyers’ playoff hopes are basically squashed, but Sunday should provide plenty of motivation: giving the Pittsburgh Penguins grief.

The two rivals will face off on NBCSN tonight with the Penguins hoping to improve their situation in the three-team Metropolitan race for the division crown (and, failing that, at least one round of home-ice advantage).

The Penguins must fight injuries and a cross-state rival. There should be plenty of talent on the ice, too, so this should be a fun one.

You can watch on NBCSN, online and via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream.