Oh man, what a (sim) opening night!
I can’t believe the (digital) Flyers came back to tie the (not real) Bruins like that. It looked like the (animated) Bruins were really working (pixel) Bryzgalov’s low (video) blocker side.
Thankfully this season (I guess?), EA Sports will be running a simulated season, and putting together highlight/recap videos for us to watch and analyze, which I intend to do with great earnestness.
Today’s highlight package apparently involved a DeLorean (not shown, sadly), as they managed to get scores and clips played from later tonight, and tomorrow as well.
Here’s how they describe the plan:
Simulations will be released on a weekly basis and will include top headlines, HUT Three Stars of the Week, box scores for each game, as well as standings and statistics for the league. The rosters used in the simulation will include all transactions made during the 2012 NHL Free Agency period.
I have no idea what HUT means (Hockey Unites Toddlers?), but let’s ignore that for now.
So here we have it: my analysis of the (sim) NHL action to date, in (real) running diary form.
0:10 – Right off the top the first thing that catches me is the voice of ESPN hockey fixture Steve Levy, meaning, well, ESPN is involved. If I’m understanding this correctly, ESPN is down with KHL hockey and simulated hockey, just not NHL puck. If they start covering the Bikini Hockey League (a real thing, apparently), I’m going to be awfully disappointed.
0:16 – The very first highlight is Ovy crushing Eric Staal, but apparently whoever designed the game thinks Ovy’s a cheap player. First, they start by showing the long skate at Staal – charging – then they have him clearly leaving his feet:
Sure the glass shattered (sweet), but dude got enough air to dunk over a Kia. But, I believe it was Fulton Reed who said it best: “Two minutes? Well worth it.”
0:17 - And now we’ve arrived at possibly the weirdest thing in this three minute video: Mike Richards gets the puck at the point, and fires a slapshot directly into the face of Danius Zubrus’. This is the second highlight they chose to show. How arbitrary an event is that? What was the conversation around the office?
Graphic designer 1: Okay, so we led with a big Ovy hit, what do you like next?
Graphic designer 2: What if Mike Richards just fires a slap-bomb directly into Danius Zubrus’ fucking face?
Graphic designer 1: Jesus, Bill.
Graphic designer 2: Damn foreigners.
0:38 – The Mike Mottau skate-to-stick pick up was a thing of beauty, and the low blocker post-kiss with Bryz sliding over might be my favourite graphic in the package. That winger’s gotta get in Mottau’s shooting lane though, love to know how he got strung out so far to the boards. Maybe he was still recovering from one of these hits?
0:48 – Okay, wait, I’m confused. After the goal they show Tuuka Rask skating up to play the puck, and Steve Levy says “The Bruins’ netminder, Tuuka Rask, got in on the action with an assist on the goal. More than just a goalie, Rask really knows how to move the puck.”
So, then we’re to believe that the highlight they show of him moving the puck up is his assist, and takes place prior to the Mottau goal, yes? But they show him move it up to Bergeron, who moves it over to Seguin, meaning he wouldn’t get an apple even if no one else touched the puck. Maybe it was just a random puck-moving highlight to demonstrate their point? I vote for “ESPN hasn’t covered hockey in forever, has forgotten the scoring rules.”
0:55 – The most real goal yet. Bryz gets beat low blocker, and Seguin skates by a teammate to celebrate solo. “Who’s got two thumbs and just scored? This guy.”
1:03 – Bah, only one minute in and there’s a second glitch that’ll require a patch to fix: Matt Read walked Zdeno Chara to score. So much for striving for realism, EA.
1:12 – The camera getting hit by the Seidenberg slapper and ending up facing down at the puck? Wicked. My favourite part is when that happens, but on earth and involving humans. Very cool.
1:28 – “The Flames gave the Canucks a warm welcome to the season, blowing by them 6-3 (uh-oh, goalie controversy. Luuuuuu!). The Flames big off-season pick-up, Dennis Wideman (hahahaha), had a two goal night.” Reminder: virtual reality, not real-ality.
1:39 – “In the home opener for the Maple Leafs, the Habs came out on top 3-2…” Doesn’t that just give you a sinking feeling, Leafs fans? Like, you’ll be so happy when the lockout ends, only to wish for it’s return after losing to the Canadiens on night one.
1:46 – Josh Gorges? The Habs sent Josh Gorges as their anchor? Oh man, are the Habs gonna be terrible again? The Habs are going to be terrible again aren’t they.
1:51 – Ah, the standings! Ohmigod ohmigod, look at the standings after three days!
Hahaha, yesssssss! FINALLY! Finally, even the folks at EA Sports have realized that all our young talent can’t be kept down forever. Our young guns have finally matured, and the Isles will be competitive for a season, likely even a playoff contender.
If Tavares can repeat his performance from last season, Grabner can regain his form, Moulson can keep pouring ‘em in, and Okposo can realize his potential, oh man. And now we have Visnovsky to work with Streit, and-
2:00 – “Unfortunately for the Islanders, Tavares suffured an undisclosed upper body injury, could be out a couple of months!”
2:25 – Michalek and Spezza lighting it up is realistic, but having them light it up against the Capitals really drives the point home. If I did 20 Systems Analyst posts, I think 11 featured the Caps “D.”
2:37 – Ovy gets “robbed” by Brodeur (I mean, Brodeur was over plenty early, the puck hit him mid-pad), but then they cut to Ovy, the only character who looks more human in digital form than real life.
I mean, he really looks sharp when pixelated, which got me thinking: The EA Sports designers almost certainly spend more time on the “main” guys, right? Surely they don’t put the same time into Matt Martin as they do Sidney Crosby. Ovy looks like…well, Ovy.
2:43 – For the full conference standings, box scores, and more details on this week’s action, be sure to read our weekly sim report on ESPN.com/nhl…” Oh man, we’re really doing this hey? Like we’re really going to break this down every week (including me). This is terrible. This is a terrible, sad thing.
2:51 – Can we talk about how amazing the final goal by Alex Burrows is? He knocks the puck down out of the air,
but with his momentum, is cruising past the net and not going to be able to get a shot off to beat the diving tender. But the quick outside pivot-spin-backhand finish is just fantastic. Boy, that (sim) Alex Burrows is good.
And there you have it folks. The first weekend of the NHL season.