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China Games

Kings, Canucks ready to play first NHL game in China

Coaches enjoy buzz around preseason matchup but know there's work to be done

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / NHL.com Staff Writer

SHANGHAI -- Historic implications aside, Los Angeles Kings coach John Stevens and Vancouver Canucks coach Travis Green each is mindful of his primary purpose at the 2017 NHL China Games presented by O.R.G. Packaging.

Stevens, promoted by the Kings on April 23 after seven seasons as an assistant to coach Darryl Sutter, and Green, in his first season with the Canucks after four seasons as coach of their American Hockey League affiliate, know the No. 1 task of the NHL preseason is roster decisions, sifting through potential line combinations and defense pairs.

There is one big difference for them this season. They'll be coaching the first NHL game in China when the Kings and Canucks play here at Mercedes-Benz Arena on Thursday (7:30 a.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).

"To be honest with you, our focus is really on the game itself," Stevens said at the morning skate in preparation for the game at 7:30 p.m. local time. "It's exciting we get to come to China and be the first group that gets to play in front of the fans here. I'm not quite sure what to expect here, like the rest of us. I'm looking forward to the game.

"It's a big game in our preseason schedule. Hopefully, there is a good buzz and excitement that can add to the energy of the game."

Video: The Canucks and Kings are set for the China Games

Said Green: "Our team is looking to get better. We're looking to improve from last year. For me, that doesn't just start once the regular season starts. It started the first day of training camp."

The time difference led to one interesting quirk for Vancouver. While going through its morning skate here, the Canucks who stayed back in Canada were playing at the Calgary Flames.

Green was asked if he was multitasking and keeping track of the score. (The Canucks won 5-3.)

"We're not watching the game, obviously, but I've been texting back and forth with (Canucks director of player development) Ryan Johnson," Green said. "Just getting a feel for certain players, how they are playing and how the game is going."

 

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Stevens and Green sounded a similar note about the China trip. It might be Shanghai and not, say, St. Louis, but the sport remains the same.

"When you play hockey, once you get inside the arena, it's just hockey," Green said. "I am curious as to what the fans are like and what team they're cheering for.

"We're making decisions on players and we're here to evaluate our hockey players and we're here to win a hockey game. That doesn't change any time you step into an arena."

The Kings and Canucks will play the second game of the 2017 China Games at Wukesong Arena in Beijing on Saturday (3:30 a.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports, NHL.TV).

Video: Sights and Sounds: Mic'd Up at Kings practice

 

Canucks projected lineup

Daniel Sedin -- Henrik Sedin -- Sam Gagner

Sven Baertschi -- Bo Horvat -- Reid Boucher

Thomas Vanek -- Alexander Burmistrov -- Loui Eriksson

Markus Granlund -- Brandon Sutter -- Derek Dorsett

Michael Del Zotto -- Erik Gudbranson

Alexander Edler -- Christopher Tanev

Ben Hutton -- Troy Stecher

Jacob Markstrom

Anders Nilsson 

 

Kings projected lineup

Jonny Brodzinski -- Anze Kopitar -- Dustin Brown

Tanner Pearson -- Jeff Carter -- Tyler Toffoli

Andy Andreoff -- Adrian Kempe -- Michael Cammalleri

Kyle Clifford -- Nick Shore -- Trevor Lewis

Derek Forbort -- Drew Doughty

Jake Muzzin -- Alec Martinez

Oscar Fantenberg -- Christian Folin

Jonathan Quick

Darcy Kuemper

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