NHL 16 features released, playoff beards to grow in full force

Jared Clinton
(via EA Sports/YouTube)

Video game fans and beard-lovers rejoice: when it comes to the latest instalment of EA Sports’ NHL video game series, your playoff run will include every last detail, down to big, bushy playoff beards.

As part of the yearly windfall of information about the NHL video game franchise that comes around the latter part of the post-season, EA Sports released the list of upcoming features for NHL 16 and among the list of game modes and features comes the improved ability to customize your skater, which includes setting how wild your playoff beard will grow. Read more

Blues’ Ryan Reaves pulls his own tooth out after a massive hit from Hawks’ Brent Seabrook

Ryan Reaves (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Hockey is wonderful for a number of reasons, including spontaneous acts of amateur self-dentistry. Blues right winger Ryan Reaves provided the latest example of that phenomenon Sunday night after absorbing a huge hit from Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook.

Reaves was drilled into the boards by Seabrook late in the second period of Chicago’s game against St. Louis, and when he made it back to the bench, he casually yanked out a tooth and handed it to the Blues trainer: Read more

Suspend him or suspend him: Vancouver’s Alex Burrows ejected after head shot on Preds’ Paul Gaustad

Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa stands near Preds center Paul Gaustad, who had just been hit by Vancouver's Alex Burrows. (John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

Just about every NHL media person working today will tell you it’s easy and often unfair to judge players’ actions from the comforts of the press box or our living rooms. We always have to bear that in mind when we’re talking about supplemental discipline. The game moves faster than any sport not contested on wheels, and there are times when players will seriously injure an opponent with no malice intended.

Then there are NHLers who “just happen” to be involved with an annually-increasing number of borderline dirty incidents in the same way Jason Statham just happens to make essentially the same action movie time and again. Which brings me to Alex Burrows.

The Canucks’ agitator was back in the headlines for all the wrong reasons Tuesday after this blindside hit to the head of Predators center Paul Gaustad got him a five-minute major and an ejection from Vancouver’s game against Nashville: Read more

Jets lose on a stinker of a goal on Ondrej Pavelec – which is why it’s Michael Hutchinson or bust for them

Adam Proteau
Ondrej Pavelec (Photo by Lance Thomson/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Winnipeg Jets had stormed back Tuesday from a 4-1 second period deficit to the St. Louis Blues to tie the game with less than six minutes left in regulation, but with 1:03 to go, Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec allowed a brutal game-winner on a Barret Jackman shot just inside center ice. Read more

Los Angeles Kings guess their video game ratings, Alec Martinez is way off

Jared Clinton
L.A. Kings Jarret Stoll and Alec Martinez

There is nothing in sports video games as hotly contested as player ratings. Whether a person thinks players are rated too high or too low, there’s very few gamers who think each rating is right in the sweet spot. Take Kings defenseman Alec Martinez, for example.

Martinez had the best year of his career last season, posting 11 goals and 22 points in 61 games with the Kings, adding another five goals and 10 points in 26 playoff games. He scored the game-winning overtime goal in game seven of the Western Conference Final and followed that up with the Stanley Cup winning goal in double overtime against the New York Rangers.

All that is to say you couldn’t argue if Martinez were to guess his player rating was somewhere in the mid-80s. What did Martinez estimate? Let’s just say it’s way less than 80. Watch as Martinez and teammates try to gauge how they stack up in EA Sports’ NHL 15. Read more

White-hot Stars rookie John Klingberg scores a long-distance goal

Adam Proteau
John Klingberg (Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

Dallas Stars rookie defenseman John Klingberg is just 22 years old, but he may never score a goal further away from the net than the one he did Tuesday night against the Oilers.

The Swedish blueliner, who was selected 131st overall by Dallas in 2010, grabbed the puck between center ice and Edmonton’s blueline and fired a slapshot from there – well, something that started out as a slapshot, anyway – at Oilers goalie Viktor Fasth, who had a clear look at it, but whiffed on it completely:
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Remember the NHL 2K video game? It’s back – and so is cover boy Ryan Kesler

Matt Larkin
After a four-year hiatus, the NHL 2K video game series returns, and it brings back Ryan Kesler as the face of the product. (Getty Images)

The video game stars have aligned this fall. The EA Sports juggernaut has enjoyed a monopoly on the NHL license for several seasons, but it picked a questionable time to release a flawed game. NHL 15 possesses amazing feel and physics, but gamers have marched their virtual torches to EA’s door, angry about a serious lack of game modes.

Quite a time, then, for the NHL 2K series to return after a four-year hiatus. The game drops any day now on iOS and Android, meaning it’s playable on virtually all phones and tablets.

Also making a comeback: 2K cover athlete Ryan Kesler. By my account, he’s the first video game athlete to grace a cover again after a four-year hiatus. He laughs when I point that out, and he seems genuinely honored to be named the face of 2K again.

“It was pretty cool, obviously,” Kesler said. “I developed a relationship over the years with 2K, working with them even before I was on the cover of 2K11. That was a dream come true. When they came to me again and gave me this opportunity, it’s something you don’t turn down.”

And NHL 2K aims to deliver something a little different than the competition, targeting the more casual gamer, maybe the type who finds hardcore simulation games like EA Sports’ NHL and Madden series, SCE’s MLB: The Show and even NBA 2K too daunting. It offers a three-season My Career Mode and has live roster updates, but its bread and butter will be a fast-paced, 3-on-3 mini rink game. It projects to have more of an arcadey feel to it.

Here’s a shot of the regular gameplay:

 

Courtesy 2K Sports

Courtesy 2K Sports

 

Kesler, 30, is grew up in the video game generation, so he knows what he wants in a game. He laments how hard sports games are to control on tablets, but he says NHL 2K breaks that mold. He’s pumped about the mini rink games. Most of all, though, he loves the shootout mode.

“Definitely something that’s going to be a competition on the planes,” Kesler said. “We’re going to be playing each other in shootouts, and it’s going to get pretty heated on the planes during road trips.”

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Bruins beat Flyers in second round – does EA stand for ‘Errors Abound’?

(Image courtesy EA Sports.)

No need to play the 2014-15 season, National Hockey League. Yes, that may cut into the $4 billion in revenues you’re expected to generate, but think of the cost savings for teams that lose money.

Really, why actually play a season when a simulated NHL season has already been played, the Stanley Cup has been awarded and all the awards winners have already been determined? That’s what EA Sports, creators of the NHL 15 video game, have done. And they’ve determined that the Los Angeles Kings will become the first back-to-back Stanley Cup champions since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and ’98. Read more