'Nuck-mania is flagging

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:15 PM ET

 VANCOUVER -- Vancouver police are warning lower mainland residents about the perils of the tiny Canucks flags that had adorned a large number of B.C. vehicles prior to Thursday's loss at GM Place.

 Apparently, they're prone to falling off when high speeds are reached, littering highways with blue, black and red depictions of constipated Orcas.

True story.

 Originally, there was concern over the fact a number of cheapskate motorists have actually risked their lives to pull over and rush into Vancouver's horrific traffic to obtain what was once a hot item heading into the post-season.

 However, following back-to-back losses to the Calgary Flames, officers are more concerned about quelling impending riots than dishing out $400 fines to those stupid enough to play human Frogger for a nylon flag.

 It's now evident the greater danger facing B.C. residents is the health crisis sure to follow the large number of locals jumping off the bandwagon and breaking their ankles.

 No longer are those flags falling off cars, they're being tossed from them as Canucks fans abandon their club in humiliating fashion.

 It started shortly after Calgary obliterated Marc Crawford's crew 4-0 in Game 4.

 The call-in shows were loaded with livid Canucks fans who were shocked to see their club outclassed by the lowly, workmanlike Flames. Somewhere along the line, Canucks fans lost sight of the fact the series was knotted 2-2, with their boys holding home-ice advantage.

 It was apparent hours before Thursday's puck drop the so-called advantage had been wiped out by a city so mopey you'd think they'd just banned coffee houses, umbrellas and Birkenstocks.

 Unlike Calgary, where fans assembled under the 'Dome 90 minutes before Games 3 and 4 to begin a never-ending series of chants, cheers and waves, the disgruntled masses at GM Place casually strolled in minutes before game time Thursday and didn't make a peep until their former heroes hit the ice. Surely, some of the wind was taken out of their sails when they heard Alex Auld was a last-minute starter, replacing the likable Johan Hedberg. (Trust me, the players felt the same.)

 Crawford's ego couldn't resist the temptation of putting a kid with 20 minutes of playoff experience into the biggest game of the year.

 In the fans' minds, it was as if the outcome was a forgone conclusion. Amazingly, they had picked up on a vibe their pillowy-soft, characterless club may never be able to deal favourably with adversity.

 Turns out they were right. And to prove their point, while the Canucks pressed relentlessly for an answer to Jarome Iginla's go-ahead goal in the final 15 minutes, hundreds -- then thousands -- began filing out of the building early to beat traffic.

 Obviously taking a lead from soft, heartless Canucks like Geoff Sanderson, Martin Rucinsky and the Sedin twins, Vancouver hockey fans thoroughly embarrassed themselves and their city by doing little to back their boys when needed most.

 Somehow, they missed the fact the hosts had outplayed the Flames and could easily be heading back to the Garage for Game 7 if the Canucks can duplicate the intensity of Game 5.

 Truth is, Vancouver's fans don't deserve another game. Shortly after 8 p.m. tonight, Calgary hockey fans will show the wet coasters what it's like to be real fans.

 Loyal fans.

 Diehard fans who appreciate the privilege of being in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

 It's been 15 years since the Flames last closed out a playoff opponent, dating back to 1989 when, well, you know the story.

 Since then, the club has done well to disappoint as both a perennial Cup challenger in the early '90s and a perennial also-ran until now. Through it all, the fans endured, setting up tonight's reward challenge of sorts.

 If you thought Games 3 and 4 were loud, you may want to bring earmuffs.

 Oh, and your flag.


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