Vancouver Canucks defenseman Michael Del Zotto will be keeping his own blog throughout the 2017 China Games presented by O.R.G. Packaging.
Del Zotto, 27, is in his first season with the Canucks.
In his second entry, Del Zotto writes about his impressions of a historic first NHL game in China, Shanghai's food scene and an upcoming bucket-list excursion. The Canucks play the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday (3:30 a.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports, NHL.TV).
Tonight's game was an experience I will cherish forever.
Hearing the Chinese national anthem, one we've never heard before, was cool. None of us really had any expectations for the whole trip, let alone the first game.
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We could see the fans getting into it, waving their towels and being excited to see what was a new sport for most them. Every little scoring chance, you heard them going crazy.
Even on shots that had no chance of going in, say, a shot from the corner of the rink or along the boards, they seemed excited. With this big ice surface, realistically, the shots weren't going in from long range. I had to chuckle a little because it's new and the fans were trying to understand the sport and had great energy.
All in all, I thought it was a great experience -- other than the final score.
Video: VAN@LAK: Ceremonial puck drop in Shanghai
There were a lot of penalties in the game, so it kind of killed the flow, but they're cracking down on all the stick infractions. You need preseason to get those little kinks out of the way.
The first period killed us, getting off to a slow start. Afterward, we talked about in the room and it's something we'll have to address for the game on Saturday. Like I just said, that's what preseason is for, to work those things out and try to be better every single day.
I had another thought about the fans tonight. Out of the 10,000-plus that were here tonight, I'm hoping we now gain 10,000 more fans. Maybe they'll tell other family and friends about hockey and hopefully they'll watch and get to enjoy it and appreciate the game like we do.
We didn't know what to expect about many things here, especially the food, but the food has been incredible. On Wednesday night, we had a team dinner: duck liver, smoked salmon, some of the best salmon I've ever had. It was incredible. Stuff you don't get at home. I tried everything they had there.
I probably had the best vanilla ice cream I've ever had. I'm more of a candy guy, not a big ice cream guy. But they had homemade vanilla ice cream, on site.
When it comes to food, I'm very open to trying stuff. I wasn't overly hungry when I got to dinner last night, but when I left, I was stuffed.
Usually, I'm very strict with what I eat and when I eat. But those rules have to go away when you travel, just like last summer when I went to Greece and Italy.
I don't do carbs. But how do you go to Italy and not have pizza or pasta? It's the same thing in China. If you want to experience the culture, that's half the experience -- the culinary arts. I wasn't quite sure what to expect coming in, and every meal I've had has been great.
We fly to Beijing bright and early tomorrow, and we have a team trip to the Great Wall of China. I'm going to be able to cross another thing off my bucket list, and it's not one I ever thought I'd get to.
I'll be posting some pictures and looking forward to sharing it with you on my next blog.