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Priority number one for the Canucks: leave the crap mantle in Montreal

It's been dark days for the Vancouver Canucks of late, and not just because the sun sets at 4:30pm now.
Hansen Canadiens
Hansen Canadiens

It's been dark days for the Vancouver Canucks of late, and not just because the sun sets at 4:30pm now. The club has struggled on their seven-game road trip, winning just once in five games, in Columbus, while dropping what initially appeared to be winnable contests in Buffalo, New Jersey, Ottawa and Toronto.

The problems are apparent. The powerplay has done little to live up to its name, boasting about as much power as Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh. The kids who injected such life and energy into the team to begin the year have begun to look weary. And the goaltending, so strong to start the season, has suddenly tailed off. The Canucks haven't held an opponent to two goals or fewer since November 2nd.

But all of these issues pale in comparison to the largest one plaguing these Vancouver Canucks: they remain, shamefully, in possession of the crap mantle.

Another refresher course: the crap mantle is a title belt for the losers, awarded to the first team to lose in any given NHL season, then passed to any team that should lose to them. As we explained last week, when the Canucks visited the Ottawa Senators, that game happened to be for the crap mantle. And the Canucks lost.

No matter, however: the Canucks' next game was versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team that began the season with the crap mantle, and a club so deserving of it that their first game of any given season tends to be where the crap mantle starts. Surely the Leafs would come away from that game with the crap mantle -- it's rightfully theirs. 

But the Canucks couldn't pass it on. Instead, they retained it for the second straight game after their most decisive loss of the season -- defeat by a two-goal margin.

This cannot stand, and it has to end now, before things spiral out of control. It was unconscionable enough when the Canucks couldn't pass it to the Leafs, especially since, any time you lose to Toronto, you should have a word with yourself. But now the Canucks run the risk of bringing the crap mantle out West.

In their defence, Vancouver is the second Western Conference team to have it this year, after Colorado. The Avalanche, like the Canucks, picked it up from an Eastern Conference club -- the aforementioned Blue Jackets. But they immediately took it with them on an Eastern road swing, eventually passing it to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Canucks, on the other hand, have just one more chance to volley it back East (Monday versus the Canadiens) before they come back to their home wearing it. And then there's no telling how long it'll be out West.  

All that said, for the safety of our fellow Western Conference compatriots, I declare Monday night's visit to Montreal a must-win. The crap mantle must not leave Montreal.