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Willes: Three thoughts on the Canucks-Kings game in Shanghai


Against the Kings, Alex Burmistrov centred the Canucks’ second power-play unit and the third line, meaning he currently holds down a feature role on Travis Green’s team. The next question is why? The former eighth overall pick has played 324 NHL games in his career and averaged nine goals and 15 assists per 80 games over that span.

Before you ask, it didn’t look like he magically found a scoring touch on Thursday night. Burmistrov has never produced at the NHL-level, but now, at 25, he’s asked to provide offence for a team which desperately in need of goals. If he continues to play that role for the Canucks past October, it’s a bad sign.


The Canucks’ 1-for-12 performance on the power play Thursday night had as much to do with Kings goalie Jonathan Quick has their own ineptitude, but there was one aspect of the PP which was concerning.

Newell Brown was brought in an as assistant coach to revive a unit which finished 29th in the NHL last season and a big part of Thursday night’s look was — *cringe* — the dreaded neutral zone drop pass. It’s not that the Canucks tried it once or twice to change things up. They seemed to try it on every zone entry to no real effect.

There are no secrets in the NHL. All teams are scouted and it will take any competent coaching staff about five minutes to neutralize that drop pass. Please, please, find something else.


Interesting take from NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly before the game. Daly went on at length about the NHL’s great desire to grow the game in China and mentioned a couple of times the league would do anything in its power to aid in that cause.

This, naturally, led to the Olympic question — If the NHL really wants to help the game in China, will they let its players participate in the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing? Here’s Daly’s answer. Make of it what you will: “I think it’s early to make that call. Certainly, Beijing raises a lot of the same challenges as South Korea. But I also think, on the upside, in terms of the opportunities that might be available for hockey, and for us, it might result in a different equation.”