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Slumping Canucks kick off make-or-break road trip

Vancouver Canucks v New York Islanders

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 17: Ben Hutton #27 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates his first NHL goal against the New York Islanders at 9:46 of the second period at the Barclays Center on January 17, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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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