For those counting the days until EA Sports releases the heavily anticipated NHL 11, here’s a little more video game porn to help keep the excitement building:  NHL 11 will feature 32 different sets of goaltender equipment.  Game producer Gurn Sumal is keeping a nifty blog, In The Crease,  following the production of the game, and his first post touches on the revamped design for goalies and their gear.

As you can tell from the screenshot above, goaltenders will be decked out in gear that accurately resembles the pads, blockers, and trappers that their real-life counterparts wear.  Dallas Stars’ netminder Kari Lehtonen is sporting a video game rendition of his snazzy Vaughn SLW’s, and I’ve gotta admit that the attention to detail is astounding.  Goaltenders offer a unique platform for design in NHL 11, based on the fact that there’s only two on the ice at one time:

“If you’re wondering how we’re able to put this much equipment in for the goalies as compared to what we put in for skaters, it’s all based on memory used in game. For goalies, there are only ever four goalies in the rink at any one time as opposed to 36 different skaters. We have to account for every single skater and goalie potentially having a different piece of equipment, which can add up quickly. The more equipment we have to load, the longer our load times are and once in the game it will affect the framerate.”

Even AHL standouts like ready-for-prime time Michal Neuvirth will be decked out in lifelike models of equipment:

We’ve only been afforded a look at the Vaughn sets of equipment thus far, but according to Sumal the game will feature all of the major manufacturers of goaltender equipment.  The biggest change to the design of the game that will allow for more customization of goalie gear was the addition of more “zones” to their player models:

“… one of the biggest changes to the goalie equipment this year is that we’ve increased the amount of recolorable zones to nine (for sets that are complex). This also includes the older equipment that has been in the game in previous years like the Bauer X: 60 or the Vaughn V3 sets. Even with 9 zones some of the equipment may still be a little off due to the sheer amount of customization that a specific set may have but we’ve tried to make it as close to real life as possible.”

It’s been a number of years since EA has attempted to include replicas of goalie’s real-life masks (NHL ’97?  Anyone?), and that may have to be added to the wishlist for another installment.  For now, we’ll take the renewed focus on the rest of their equipment.  No word yet if Carey Price’s pads will feature a pouch for his smokes.