During last night’s playoff game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins, the camera caught what looked to be Leafs goaltender James Reimer’s wife, April, giving Elisha Cuthbert the stink eye with Cuthbert returning the favour with an expertly executed eyeroll. Apparently, this happened after Cuthbert’s fiancé, Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf, made a critical error which ultimately costed Toronto the game.
With everyone so eager to pit female celebrities against each other, the stink eye heard around Twitter created much speculation that there may be a feud between the two hockey wives (or soon to be). Sorry to say that’s not the case.
April Reimer tweeted the following to help curb the onslaught of rumours:
— April Reimer (@april_reimer) May 9, 2013
Cuthbert also chimed in with this tweet:
Things are not always what they seem. I’m insulted and disappointed by a lot of these Comments. That’s real. Not a 3 sec. Clip.
— Elisha Cuthbert (@HappyElishas) May 9, 2013
Whatever the case, they have bigger fish to fry the Leafs are trailing the Boston Bruins 3-1 in the playoff series.
NHL defenseman Matt Lashoff of the Toronto Maple Leafs is released an album, reports ChartAttack.
Lashoff will be releasing a full-length album called ‘Living On Heart,’ and you can hear clips of songs at his website.
Yahoo! Sports’ Puck Daddy has described the record as “one female midget with a ukulele away from being the most random assortment of musicians ever assembled this side of Gogol Bordello.” Basically, he’s saying it sounds all over the place, not sticking to one specific music genre.
“Most people know my day job as a hockey player, which I have more love and passion for than I can explain,” Lashoff wrote on his website. “It has given me many unbelievable experiences and has introduced me to some of the best people I know. Playing hockey has given me the opportunity to accomplish another one of my dreams since I was a child and that was to record an album. ”
“I recently found a piece of paper from when I was 10 with a list of my goals. The first as many of you could guess is to make the NHL. Within that list of around 5 things, was to record an album.”
“It makes me so proud to be able to have everyone finally listen to music, which I have written, and put my heart and soul into since I started writing songs and playing hockey. Playing guitar, and music in general, has been such a great release for me from the enduring hockey season.”
This is so random, but if he’s actually talented then it can be a pleasant surprise. I guess it’s good to diversify yourself. NHL’er Sean Avery interned at ‘Vogue,’ so why can’t Lashoff write an album?
People reports their wedding planner called the ceremony “a spiritual expression of their love” – a special moment for a “very special couple.” 250 friends and family were apparently in attendance.
“We could not feel more blessed to have found each other and to have shared this day with our friends and family that mean so much to us!” the newlyweds told PEOPLE in a statement, signing their names “Mike & Carrie Fisher.”
This is the uniform for one of Canada’s leading sports personalities. Hard to believe?
Meet Cabral “Cabbie” Richards, The Score Network’s animated icon, who has sent a loud message out to the media industry: traditional reporting isn’t always successful, and that his new-school style of interviewing can trump those old-school classroom methods.
In his interviews with star athletes on The Score’s Cabbie on the Street, it’s always a challenge to pint-point exactly the recipe for his success. But narrowing it down, there’s one key ingredient that differentiates the 31-year-old from Cambridge, Ontario, from the rest.
Exhibit B: his swagger.
The Play offs have started.
The last hockey game I bought for full price was Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey for the N64, since then I haven’t really fallen in love with any new hockey games. Sure, I’ve played my share but nothing has captured the frenzy of the old hockey games and has left me wondering if maybe my expectations are a bit too high. No, I haven’t been under a rock or anything, I’ve played and kept up to date on the newer NHL games but nothing has really stood out enough for me to merit a purchase.
When talks were brewing about NHL 2K10 utilizing the Wii Motion Plus accessory I was really excited to see how evolutionary this title might turn out to be. This excitement was due to the fact that the last sports title I played that utilized the Motion Plus was the excellent Tiger Woods 10. In the end it’s the actual utilization of this little gizmo that will either make or break this title.
So does NHL 2k10 have what it takes? Read more…
There are two things I have never done. 1) I have never gotten so into a sporting event that I yelled for (or at) a team or player. 2) I have never gotten so into a video game that I jumped up, yelled at the screen, and swore. NHL 10 for the Xbox 360 made me do both, and I have to admit, I liked it.
I’ve never been an emotional gamer, and I’ve never been that much into sports (then again, as a Canadian, I feel there’s a default certain level of national pride we all share with hockey), but when playing as the Toronto Maple leafs and winning 2-1 on game seven against Ottawa for the Stanley Cup and with less than 1 minute left in the third period you can’t help but get a little into it when Ottawa scores the tying goal with seconds left on the clock. Yes, I jumped up, yes my voice got loud and shrill, and yes I did say some things that would make a sailor blush. I think this was the most rewarding aspect of NHL 10, that after 17 past NHL titles, EA still has what it takes to make a casual hockey fan into a raving sports fanatic, and I didn’t see it coming. Read more…
Where do Toronto Film Fest buffs, WWE RAW fanatics, free concert goers, and Maple Leaf hopefuls converge at 11:59PM on a Monday? Why Future Shop at Yonge and Dundas in down town Toronto for the midnight release of EA Sports’ NHL 10, hosted by Xbox Canada of course!
AndPOP was in tow to witness the launch of what may very well be this year’s best hockey title. In a town that loves their hockey hundreds lined up early, a pick-up street hockey game was going on across the street, and anticipation was high for the clock to strike midnight. Read more…
Are you excited for EA Sports NHL 10? If you’re Canadian, probably. The #1 selling console game in Canada has it’s launch parties in Toronto and Vancouver Monday, September 14. The Toronto party will be at the Yonge and Dundas Future Shop with Wendel Clark and Ian White (of Maple Leafs fame) from 9pm to 11:45pm, and in Vancouver’s Granville and Robson Future Shop with Trevor Linden of the Canucks. The Future Shop locations will be open until 1am, so check it out if you’re not too busy… and on a Monday night, what’s your excuse?
That’s right hockey, sport, and gamer fans. We have been given the green light to release this new second teaser trailer showcasing the features and fun of NHL 2K10 for release this fall.
Briere takes center stage in this teaser as he unleashes a breakaway that is stonewalled by Turco before dekes, hits, and mid-pass team changes ensue as all hell breaks loose (hockey style).
Enjoy the video after the break! Read more…
Here you go hockey and game fans, below you will find the first official teaser trailer for NHL 2K10 by 2K Sports.
With an new emphasis on casual gaming now both the hard-core and not-so-hard-core and both join in on the fun with true to life authenticity, revamped AI, online and offline multiplayer, and much more! NHL 2K10 faces off September 15 for the Wii, PS3, PS2, and Xbox 360.
2K Sports has chosen Alexander Ovechkin to grace the cover of NHL 2K10. In celebration, 2K Sports is holding a public outdoor motion capture session with Ovechkin himself at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. The game’s producers will be putting the hockey star through a number of drills to capture his signature style data.
Alexander Ovechkin, in case you didn’t know, plays left wing with the Washington Capitals. He was the first overall selection in the 2004 entry draft, and scored more goals this season than anybody else in the NHL. In a statement published by 2K Sports, Ovechkin says: “It’s a good time to be Ovi!”
NHL 2K10 is being developed by Visual Concepts for the Wii, Xbox 360, PS3 and PS2. It ships later this fall.
After reviewing over 10 games on the Wii, I finally got my hands on a hockey title. Leading up to this exciting day, my mind would fill with ideas of how the controls would work, simulating a slap shot, dekeing and faking, basically hoping for a direct simulation of an actual game of hockey thanks to the Wii’s unique position in terms of controller inventiveness. When I popped in NHL 2K9 for the Nintendo Wii, the first thing I noticed was the sharp cut off between the intro music and going straight into a quick match setup. It seemed that there was no true main menu in the game unless you read the small text at the bottom saying “press the + button to select menu”. I guess I could shrug this off in the assumption that 2K Sports was trying to instill the idea of instant action without bothering the player, and in fact, I support this decision as it makes the game begin that much quicker.
Playing the game itself is challenging. The introduction and all aspects found in most hockey games are present, but once that puck drops, it feels like a totally different game… or at least a hockey game you might have played a few years ago on the Gamecube. The graphics found in NHL 2K9 are nearly insulting to watch, with basic reflections, abysmal audience and simple animations, the un-detailed renderings of the players, while smooth, are simple at best.
Music wise you get the same old rock anthems and hockey jingles that appear in any other game and the voice commentary, while appreciated, is frustratingly repetitive to a point where you just want to mute your TV. Otherwise, the sound effects coming from the skates and players are simple recordings of real life sounds, both realistic but bland.
Now let’s talk about controls, what the Wii prides itself on. Controlling the flow of action is pretty unique in NHL 2K9, you use the analog stick to skate around and the remote to control your stick handling, sounds great but its so touchy and reactive at times while being sluggish at others that it’s nearly impossible to pull off a high skilled deke shot without making a mistake somewhere. Using the Wii-mote’s accelerometer to wind up slapshots is cool, but when you want to do it, it doesn’t work out how you hoped it would, and when you just want to dump the puck, you wind up… well, winding up! It’s hard and cumbersome to do simple maneuvers other NHL games can do with easy such as checking or stripping the puck from another player, and to go back to the graphics issue, the animations are so simple you don’t even realize your doing a move by the way the players look. One feature that still do this date eludes me is that no matter how hard I try to get into a fight, I just cannot seem to start one, there aren’t any instructions in the manual about how to control a fight and from all the demos I’ve watched and times I’ve played, I have yet to see a fight, I’m starting to think perhaps there is no fighting in NHL 2K9 for the Wii
Once your done playing exhibition games, 2K9 offers a number of other game modes to enjoy such as the following: Franchise mode allows players to focus on any NHL team to guide them to the Stanley Cup, making decisions about players on the ice, management, coaching, drafting and more. Mini-rink gives 2 on 2 hockey action on a tiny rink, bouncy walls and no penalties make for one action packed minigames. Pond hockey gives players a 4 on 4 match with invisible walls that still clank like plexiglass, and finally, the all important shootout mode. While these options aren’t all that expansive, and there isn’t a creation mode of any kind, it’s still nice to have some extras in a game that seems to be missing the ball on so many other features.
All these negatives being said, I still feel NHL 2K9 is the best hockey game out there on the Nintendo Wii to date, the nunchuck controls are fun to skate around with, and with the selection of other game types, you will have plenty to draw upon when the old NHL leaves you lying flat. After all, there’s always next year… NHL 2K10?
Replay Value: 3.0/5
Canadian director Jason Reitman, actors Adam Beach and David Boreanz and director Kevin Smith are among the celebrities the NHL has recruited to blog about hockey.
More than a dozen celebrity fans will write about their favourite team or their love of hockey on the NHL website during this year’s playoffs.
Beach, who can currently be seen as Det. Chester Lake on NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU,” will be following the Ottawa Senators in their run for the Stanley Cup.
Boreanz, star of TV series “Angel” and “Bones,” will track the Philadelphia Flyers, while “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” director Smith will do the same with the New Jersey Devils.
Reitman, who has directed commercials for the NHL, is a Canucks fan. When his team failed to make the playoffs, “I decided……… that I’m going to write a kind of mythical blog about what the Canucks and [L.A.] Kings would be doing had they still been in,” he said.
This is the second year the NHL has lined up TV, music and film celebrities to blog about their hockey fandom.
Other celebrity bloggers this year include actors Thomas Cavanagh and Thorsten Kaye, reality TV star Rob Mariano and musicians Syd Butler and Dierks Bentley.
Joining an NHL Hockey pool this playoff season? Why not build a winner using the Windows Live Messenger NHL Stats Agent?
Add it now to your Messenger Buddy List or your Office Communicator Contacts and start getting all the stats for your favourite players: email@example.com
Get the answers you need with questions like: “Who plays left wing for Toronto?” or “How is Sydney Crosby doing?” or “Show me last night’s scores.”
Windows Live Agents are a cool technology designed to drive deep engagement with end-consumers through WL Messenger, but they can be thoroughly customized for Enterprise applications (and their customers) as well. The Agent uses the technology of Colloquis, a company recently acquired and brought in-house by Microsoft.
It’s an interactive Messenger Buddy designed to provide current NHL stats data and NHL Playoffs stats data to anyone who adds it to Messenger or Communicator. We thought it’d be an interesting and different way for Canadian Fantasy Sports players (traditionally 18-34 year old males) to get their NHL fix. Statistics are provided to us by STATS, the leading global provider of sports information and statistical analysis.
As a fan/supporter of Jos? Th?odore for many years now, it seems like I have become his spokeswoman/lawyer. Everyone I know, be it friends, family or peers, all ask for my thoughts/opinions/analysis on everything Th?o related. And throughout his many hardships and rough patches, I have stood up to all the negativity and criticism and defended him all year.
And boy, what a tumultuous year it has been indeed. During the 2005-06 NHL campaign, the former NHL MVP found himself making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
His play on the ice dropped significantly as he struggled with the new, smaller regulated goalie equipment. Th?odore, who is only 5?11 and 182 lbs, looked tiny in the net at times. He seemed to go down into his butterfly-style too soon exposing the whole top-half of the net and he often let in soft goals through the five-hole between his legs earning the nicknames ?The-open-door? or Jos? ?top shelf? Th?odore.
Th?odore failed an Olympic drug test as he tested positive for the use of Propecia, a hair-growth drug that is commonly used as a masking agent. The Canadiens? team doctor was quick to clear up the matter stating Th?odore has been taking Propecia for eight years on prescription and not to hide the use of other drugs. Insert jeers and jokes here.
During the two-week Olympic break, Th?odore slipped on the icy front steps of his house fracturing his heel. During his recovery, Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey traded Th?odore to the Colorado Avalanche for goalie David Aebischer.
Th?o?s Avalanche debut was put on hold as he continued to rehab his injured heel.
Th?odore and his long-time girlfriend St?phanie Cloutier also became parents to a baby girl, Romy during that time.
As heartbreaking as it was to see him traded, things were looking bright for Jos?. I was hopeful that this change of scenery and the new addition to his family might be exactly what Jos? needed to start his resurgence.
Although he posted only one win in his five regular season games in a Colorado jersey, Th?odore was able to backstop the seventh-seeded Avs to a first-round upset over the second seeded Dallas Stars. His performance in the series clincher was a spectacular 50-save outing in game five that went into overtime. Colorado was eventually swept in the second round by the Mighty Ducks, but the flashes of vintage Jos? Theodore were evident.
And then?scandal broke!
This past week, Jos? Th?odore?s name and visage has been splashed across tabloids all over the world as he was photographed holding hands and partying with hotel heiress Paris Hilton in Toronto following the Much Music Video Awards.
Since the ordeal, it has been reported that Cloutier, his girlfriend of eight-years and mother of his child, has given him to boot out of their Montreal home.
Th?odore is no stranger to controversy and scandals. During the 2003 off-season, several members of Jos??s family, including his father and half-brothers, were arrested on loan-sharking charges. Jos? himself was not charged or believed to be involved in any manner; he did stand by and support his family during this ordeal. That same summer, a photograph of Th?odore with members of the Hell?s Angels biker gang ran on the front page of a Montreal newspaper.
Already coming of a disappointing season where the Canadiens failed to make the playoffs, Jos? kept a low-profile that summer and many wondered how he would respond in the fall when the 2003-04 NHL season began.
Th?odore was able to put all doubt aside as he set a new career-high in wins (33), had six shutouts and was able to lead the Habs to the post-season when they came back from 3-1 deficit to upset the Boston Bruins in the first round. Th?odore even earned his first career playoff shutout in game 7.
It?s been a rollercoaster ride all year long with Jos?. Right now it seems like we?re suspended mid-air waiting for the drop. For Jos??s sake, let?s hope he can work things out with St?phanie and Romy. And for the Colorado Avalanche?s sake, they are hoping he is able to have a similar rebound this fall for the start of his first full-season with Colorado.
And for our sake, the next time we hear or read the expression ?No way Jos?!? hopefully it will be referring to a spectacular, highlight reel save he just made. I know he can do it.
For the third straight NHL playoffs, Lord Stanley?s Cup will be decided in only one game.
The 2003 the New Jersey Devils capture their third Cup in seven games vs. the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and the following year in 2004, the Tampa Bay Lighting defeated the Calgary Flames in a decisive game seven situation as well.
On Monday, the Edmonton Oilers will be looking to join the likes of the Devils and the Lighting to be known as Stanley Cup champions. An Edmonton win would not only mean the Stanley Cup would return back to Canadian soil for the first time since 1993, or a cool symbolic sixth Cup in the year 2006 ( 6 in ?06), but it would also cement the 05-06 Oilers? place in the NHL history books as well.
At one point in this series vs. the Carolina Hurricanes, the Oilers trailed three games to one. Their power-play was a dismal four-percent, they were averaging just over one-goal a game, which in itself is an inflated stat considering the Oilers scored four goals in game one only to blow a 3-0 lead to lose 5-4.
Entering game five this past Wednesday, many hockey reporters were preparing their obituaries for the Oilers. The team were not giving any indications that they could beat the ?Canes who had all the momentum of a 3-1 lead in the series and a chance to win their franchise?s first Cup on home ice. It seemed like the clock had struck midnight for this year?s Cinderella team.
The game itself had three different lead changes, not to mention tense moments late in the third period with the teams tied 3-3. The teams held on to push for overtime, giving the Hurricanes an opportunity to win in dramatic fashion. The game was ended in dramatic fashion?just not the way Carolina would have planned it to.
Early into the extra frame, Oilers defenseman Steve Staios was assessed a minor penalty. The Hurricanes? power-play was firing on all cylinders in the game, as all three ?Canes goals were scored with the man advantage. They had the game served up on a silver platter?so it seemed.
An interesting aspect of the Hurricanes power-play is they often employ five forwards as oppose to having a defenseman or two manning the backend. This is to increase their goal-scoring prowess; however it puts them in a vulnerable position if the opposing team make a break shorthanded.
Edmonton-born Fernando Pisani would make them regret it as he picked off a cross-ice pass, breaking in alone and snapping the puck high on Carolina goalie Cam Ward to win the game, putting the Hurricanes? champagne on ice and guaranteeing one more game back in Edmonton?s Rexall Place.
With that goal, Pisani scored 4 game-winning-goals this post-season. That tied him with ex-Oiler Ken Linesman and Hall of Famer Paul Coffey for second place on the Oilers? all-time list.
Game six gave the Hurricanes the opportunity to do what they couldn?t do in Raleigh, NC Wednesday night; however Pisani and his team mates would not have any part of that. Pisani opened the scoring in a 4-0 stomping of the Hurricanes. Pisani?s goal stood up as the game-winner tying him with Jari Kurri for the lead on the Oilers? list with five playoff game-winning-goals.
And that’s where we stand right now.
With game seven slated for Monday night back in Carolina, the Oilers will be looking to be the only team to rally from 3-1 down in a Stanley Cup final to win, a feat completed by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1942!
Losing games five and six marked the first time the ?Canes have dropped two games in a row since losing games one and two vs. the Montreal Canadiens in round one.
The Oilers play their best hockey when their backs are against the wall and the Hurricanes are showing what a season of success and domination in their southeast division can do to a team in the gruelling post-season: erases their killer instinct needed to dispose of teams and fight back?both are qualities the Oilers have possessed all year and throughout the playoffs.
The ?Canes? flight back to Raleigh must have been a long ride since they were empty-handed and if they fail to take a page out of the Oilers? playbook for Monday?s game seven, it?ll be a long, long off-season for the boys in North Carolina as well.
The Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Dallas Stars, Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lighting, Nashville Predators and the Calgary Flames were all sent packing in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Colorado Avalanche, Ottawa Senators, New Jersey Devils and the San Jose Sharks followed suit in the second round.
And then there were four. An unlikely four really; Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes and the Edmonton Oilers.
Welcome to the new NHL.
When the National Hockey League re-launched after the 301-day lockout wiped out the entire 2004-05 season, Commissioner Gary Bettman promised that under the new economic structure, all teams, regardless of their marketplace, would be able to compete on an even playing surface as the wealthier teams. Even though Bettman is vilified by hockey fans, give the man some credit, he achieved exactly what he said he would.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, one team that had a significant advantage economically in the old NHL, failed to make the playoffs this year. Clear-cut ?favourites? like Detroit, Philadelphia, Dallas, Colorado, Ottawa and defending Stanley Cup champions Tampa Bay all hit the golf courses early this year.
Having Anaheim, Buffalo, Carolina and Edmonton as the final four teams remaining in the Cup hunt is a good thing for the league in the sense that it is proof smaller market teams can make a legitimate run at the Cup. The Edmonton Oilers were able to acquire Chris Pronger, Michael Peca, Sergei Samsonov and Dwayne Roloson this season. Carolina went out and got Doug Weight and Mark Recchi, Anaheim were able to sign Scott Neidermayer and bring back Temmu Selanne.
However, on the flip side, having four small market teams eliminates the large fan interest that a Toronto, Montreal, Detroit and Colorado final four would have generated.
So far, the NHL has been successful in increasing ratings and attendance throughout the regular season, but now when the Cup is about to be awarded for the first time since June 2004, will anyone care?
In hockey-mad Canada, if the Oilers make it to the finals, they will take the place of the ?04 Calgary Flames as ?Canada?s team?. If the Sabres represent the eastern conference in the finals, most likely more fans would possibly tune in since Buffalo is much more of a hockey market than Anaheim or Carolina.
It does remain to be seen whether a Ducks-Hurricanes final would be disastrous or beneficial for the NHL since the ?new? league is centred on making money and generating fan interest to smaller markets. If fans in those respected cities are the only ones who care, then the NHL would be achieving neither.
New York Rangers? forward Jaromir Jagr is the cover boy of this week?s issue of the Hockey News with the headline that reads: ?I Love New York.?
The last time fans saw Jagr, it would be hard to convince anyone he loved playing in the Big Apple. It seemed the passion Jagr displayed during his years in Pittsburgh was gone.
However, with a full NHL campaign lost due to a labour dispute, it is out with the old and in with the new.
Jagr is one of the many NHL players who have embraced the rule changes implemented by the League to allow the offensive, skilled players the time and space to be crafty with the puck to boost scoring and create excitement for fans.
During the lockout last season, Jagr re-gained his love for the game of hockey when he played for Avangard Omsk of the Russian Super League. Jagr even agreed to return to Omsk if the lockout would have continued on into this season as well.
Prior to the start of the season, the question surrounding Jagr was: ?Which Jagr would show up? Would it be the Jagr who played in Pittsburgh or the Jagr who played in Washington and New York??
Along with the ?new? NHL, fans and reporters alike have seen a ?new? Jagr lead his team with 23 points in only 15 games. The Rangers as a team have been a pleasant surprise as they current sit atop of the Atlantic division in the East. If the Rangers keep up their winning ways, they could be poised to make the playoffs for the first time since 1997.
Alexei Kovalev, Jagr?s former team mate in both Pittsburgh and New York, is also proving critics wrong with his play thus far this season.
Kovalev, who re-signed with the Montreal Canadiens after testing the free agent market this summer, cleared up any thoughts that he did not enjoy his brief stint with the Habs after being traded from the Rangers in March 2004.
After a slow start with Montreal, Kovalev showed what he was made of during the playoffs as he was a key player in helping the Canadiens upset the Boston Bruins in the first round.
With the crackdown on obstruction, Kovalev has been given the room he desires to hold onto the puck and cycle dangerously around the opposing net. This season, Kovalev has 16 points in 15 games and has seemingly been a positive role model for rookie Alexander Perezhogin.
Montreal fans have been treated to an Alexei Kovalev who not only scores goals, but passes the puck, doesn?t over-stay his shifts, delivers hits, blocks shots, plays defensively to kill off penalties and so far has yet to give up on plays like he has done in the past.
Both Jagr and Kovalev are surrounded by skilled linemates, [Michael Nylander & Martin Straka for Jagr and Saku Koivu & Richard Zednik for Kovalev], which helps enhance their play as first-line players and also being a part of winning teams helps boost their confidence.
Prior to the start of the season, Kovalev, eager to bring another championship home to Montreal, was quoted as saying playing in New York messed up his career and the Rangers in the last few years are notorious for ruining careers of star players.
That may have been the case since the Rangers, who had the highest payroll in the pre-salary cap era of the NHL, were New York?s greatest under-achievers; however, Jagr and a younger Rangers squad are proving that anything is possible in the new NHL.
If you’ve read enough of my reviews then perhaps you have come to notice that I am more so the actionadventure gaming buff and that I seldom review sports games; in other words, I’m a nerd. But that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize a fun game with fantastic features when I see it: enter NHL 06 for PS2, Xbox and Gamecube.
Last month I purchased a PSP bundle that came with Gretzky and the very next day I had to buy a new game because the great one just didn?t cut it. I understand fully that comparing games on consoles to games on portables is like comparing apples to oranges but I feel that in this case I have to do it simply because NHL 06 triumphs in the area in which Gretzky fails ? a crucial one in this case ? gameplay.
With Gretzky handling the puck is just plain annoying – half the time when you try to recover it, you find yourself skating right around it. This makes it nearly impossible to set up some nice one-timers or crucial rebound shots. Puck handling with NHL 06 is smooth and even better, you can pick up the controller, watch for the button guide on the load up screen and you?re good to go.
In a few matches I found myself quickly moving beyond the basics and onto some of the more complicated areas, such as switching up your defensiveoffensive strategies. Toggling the strategies is done with the D-pad while player movement is controlled by the left analog. The right analog is used to activate a star player?s special shots. It sounds complicated having to worry about two analogs and a D-pad but it becomes quite fluid after a short while.
What impressed me most about this game was that it was more than just firing the puck at the net, it was also about being able to quickly switch up your defensive or offensive strategy on the fly – it becomes almost an art. For example, moving past the third line and changing your offensive strategy, so that you have two men move down with you allowing you to initiate beautiful set-ups and pass-backs would leave the goalie nice and schooled. This also works in reverse, for when your opponent begins to move into your zone you can make the quick switch to your defensive strategy so that if needed, the whole team comes to the rescue.
In general, the game is still no cakewalk. It?s almost an insult to the goalie if you bother to shoot the puck from the third blue line for instance. You really have to get the hang of the targeting system when shooting the puck as well. When you hold the button down for either a slap or wrist shot, targets appear behind the goalie. Aiming at an illogical target won?t give you the goal but deeking to the left and then aiming for the right will improve your chances.
The game has a variety of modes including full season and exhibition, as well as NHL 94! I don?t know if EA was aiming to show how far hockey games have come along but this is certainly what comes to mind when playing the more-than-a-decade-old version. I also loved being able to create a player and model his facial features to look like anyone I wanted. I chose to model a player after myself. And on top of this, when I used my doppelganger in the game the commentator referred to him by the name I entered, which was my own, ?Johnny.? How spectacular is it when charging down rink with the puck to then hear the commentator say, ?Johnny fires the shot and scores!?
So there you have it, NHL 06 is in many ways proof that we shouldn?t get too excited about the next generation of consoles just yet because there are still solid titles on the systems we have right now. Definitely pick up a copy of this one, especially if you?re looking to get an early fix of hockey now that we know we’ll soon be able to get back into the race for the cup.
The National Hockey League Players’ Association voted 87 per cent in favour of the proposed collective bargaining agreement.
The NHLPA wrapped up their meetings held in Toronto today and will await the results of the board of governors ratification vote tomorrow.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is expected to fly to Toronto tomorrow to give a joint press conference with NHLPA boss Bob Goodenow to officially announce the new CBA.
Once the owners ratify the deal, the NHL will be open for business as of Saturday as general mangers can begin buying out players and issuing qualifying offers to restricted free agents.