NHL '11 update: Introducing the 'Hustle Button' plus some gameplay videos

Whether you play them for the interactive competition, the feeling of controlling your favorite team or just as a diversion when the “real” games aren’t on, hockey video games are a favorite pastime for many puckheads. With all due respect to “NHL Slap Shot” and 2K Sports’ offerings, “NHL 11” is the marquee polygonal puck title. When information slips out about it, we’ll try to share it for you … and occasionally over-think it a bit too.

Before I go through some videos that might be interesting for hockey game nerds such as myself, let me point to one unexpected “innovation” that the latest title will add. Operation Sports includes a blurb regarding a newly added “hustle button.” Here’s an explanation of the new feature from EA.

RedshirtEA:
Ok… first what it is NOT….
It is NOT sprint or speed burst like NHL06 (and earlier).

It is on L3, and it gives you an increase to acceleration and a small increase in speed.

The point of it is to create a range in speed so that players aren’t always going 100% speed. It lowers your fatigue more quickly than normal skating and you can’t turn as sharply.”

Let’s see: it can make your player go faster but also makes him tire more easily. That sounds like a speed burst increase to me, although I understand the argument of not “always going 100 percent.” Still, one of my favorite things about the “next-gen” EA hockey games was the lack of a speed burst button. It seemed more natural and realistic, whereas this hustle button makes me wonder if I’ll have to start watching my “turbo meter” again like in the days of NBA Jam.

So I’m a little reluctant to give the “thumbs up” to two big changes: 1) the hustle button and 2) sticks breaking during games. That being said, it’s unfair to criticize the alterations without first playing the game, so I’ll reserve my harshest judgments/breathless praise until the game releases in September.

After the jump: dorky analysis of a few gameplay-related videos.


Clip 1

EA claims that hits are going to be less robotic and predictable in the latest version and this clip shows that could be the case. On some level I’ll miss the weird lock-on hit effect, but it looks like a nice improvement.

Clip 2

Another thing that attention to detail types critique is that the puck seems to move a little too conveniently. Rarely are there the crazy bounces that happen so often in actual hockey games. From this clip, it looks like EA’s claims about improved physics might be justified.

Want to watch a few more clips of gameplay mechanics? Click here. Otherwise, we’ll keep you updated as video game news bits drop. While the real season starts in October, the digital version will be there in September.

(H/T to Sean Leahy)

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    Flames win in OT, setting up a four-team race for Pacific Division title

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    ST. LOUIS (AP) Sean Monahan likes working overtime. The Calgary Flames forward proved it again Saturday night.

    Monahan scored with 3 seconds left in overtime, lifting the Flames past the St. Louis Blues 3-2. Troy Brouwer and Matt Bartkowski also scored for the Flames, who improved to 13-4 in overtime this season. Brian Elliott made 29 saves.

    Monahan’s winning goal deflected off of Blues forward Kyle Brodziak. It was his third goal in his last four games.

    “You never know, when you throw pucks at the net, anything can happen,” Monahan said. “That’s a good bounce, a lucky bounce and we’ll take it.”

    Monahan set the Flames franchise record with the seventh regular-season overtime goal of his career. He also has seven career shootout winners.

    Flames coach Glen Gulutzan didn’t know what happened at first immediately after the game-winner.

    “I jumped when everybody else jumped and it was kind of like, I didn’t get the joke, right?” Gulutzan said. “Everybody got the joke, I didn’t. I just jumped because I saw everybody else jump. So now I’ve got to take a look at it now.”

    Ivan Barbashev and Jaden Schwartz scored for the Blues, who had their four-game winning streak snapped. Jake Allen made 28 saves and all three goals he gave up went off of teammates.

    “You feel bad for Jake when he played the way he did,” Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said. “If you give up three goals off your own guys, it means probably, for the most part, you’re doing a good job defensively. Some tough bounces there, but we got a point out of it.”

    The Blues fell one point behind Nashville for third in the Central Division with 86 points and eight games to go. St. Louis trails Calgary by two points for the top wild-card spot.

    The Flames snapped a two-game skid, salvaging the finale of a three-game road trip.

    “It was a quick-paced game and it was pretty physical and it was back and forth all night, but we feel good right now and we’re both fighting to stay in the playoffs and it was a big win for our team,” Monahan said.

    Schwartz gave the Blues a 2-1 lead at the 7:16 mark of the third period. The puck went off of Schwartz’s skate and the goal was upheld after a review.

    Bartkowski tied it at 10:53. It was the first goal in 17 games this season for the Flames defenseman.

    Brouwer’s power-play goal gave the Flames a 1-0 lead with 2:49 left in the first period. It snapped an 0-for-12 scoreless streak with the man advantage for Calgary.

    Elliott stopped all 13 shots in the opening frame, including two quality chances by Schwartz and Alex Pietrangelo on a Blues power play.

    Elliott improved to 4-1 all-time against his former team, including a 2-0 mark this season.

    “I mean, obviously, you’d like to give up no goals there and I thought it was a blatant kicking motion (by Schwartz), but you’ve got to get points somehow in this league,” Elliott said. “It was big to solidify one point and then to go after the next one.”

    Barbashev tied it at the 8:08 mark of the second period. Colton Parayko‘s pass drew Elliott out of position and Barbashev, on his second try after his first was blocked by a Calgary defender, put the puck in the empty net.

    “After the first off the legs of the D or someone, I saw the puck was going back and I wasn’t for 100 percent sure that someone was going to be there, but I got lucky,” Barbashev said.

    Sharks coach DeBoer wasn’t happy with Jarnkrok hit that preceded Haley match penalty

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    San Jose Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer weighed in on Micheal Haley‘s sucker punch on Calle Jarnkrok in the third period of Saturday’s game.

    Haley was given a match penalty for the incident. He was hit into the boards by Jarnkrok and immediately retaliated, dropping the Nashville Predators forward with one punch as a melee ensued.

    Jarnkrok was penalized for boarding on the hit.

    DeBoer had an interesting take on the incident.

    “When you run someone from behind in a game like that, you probably deserve to get a punch in the mouth,” he told reporters.

    The Sharks have now lost six in a row, after a 7-2 defeat to the Predators. The Oilers defeated the Avalanche on Saturday, which puts San Jose into a three-way tie with Anaheim and Edmonton at 91 points for first place in the Pacific Division.

    In two games this weekend versus Dallas and Nashville, the Sharks were outscored 13-3.

    It gets worse.

    Per CSN Bay Area, forward Logan Couture was taken to the hospital after he took a puck to the mouth and lost a tooth late in the second period.

    “You can’t replace him, so it would be really tough,” said Patrick Marleau of Couture. “But if that is the case, then guys are going to have to pull up the slack. Definitely we hope he’s back sooner.”

    Babcock: ‘I don’t know the answer’ about status of injured goalie Andersen

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    Not only did the Toronto Maple Leafs lose in Buffalo on Saturday, but goalie Frederik Andersen left the game with an upper-body injury and didn’t return.

    Curtis McElhinney took over in net to begin the second period. He allowed three goals on 22 shots, as Buffalo busted this one wide open with three goals in the middle frame on the way to a 5-2 victory.

    Despite the loss, the Maple Leafs remain third in the Atlantic Division. But the Andersen injury is definitely a concerning development as Toronto looks to accelerate its rebuild by qualifying for the post-season.

    Head coach Mike Babcock didn’t provide an update on Andersen following the game. But he did drop one little tidbit of information that has led to speculation about the possible nature of the injury.

    From the Toronto Sun:

    The suspicion was that Andersen has suffered a concussion or a shoulder injury, though coach Mike Babcock had no update.

    “I can’t really tell you because I don’t know the answer,” Babcock said.

    “The other team’s doctor thought he should come out of the game so he came out of the game. Once our doctors see him (on Sunday), I will have a better handle on what is going on and I will be able to tell you.

    It’s not exactly clear when or how the injury occurred, but possibilities have been discussed. Here’s one example:

    Video: Haley given match penalty for sucker punch, Sharks lose sixth straight

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    Things continue to snowball out of control for the San Jose Sharks.

    The Sharks lost their sixth consecutive game after yet another blowout defeat, this time by a final score of 7-2 versus the Nashville Predators on Saturday. Forward Logan Couture lost a tooth after taking a puck to the face in the second period.

    And late in the game, Micheal Haley was given a match penalty for an incident involving Calle Jarnkrok.

    The Sharks forward is now automatically suspended until commissioner Gary Bettman reviews the incident.

    This incident occurred when Haley was hit into the boards by Jarnkrok. Haley then got up, sped right toward the Predators forward, dropped his gloves and delivered a punch to Jarnkrok as he tried to back away, knocking him to the ice.

    Jarnkrok was given a minor penalty for boarding.

    Haley was also involved in a fight with Cody McLeod early in the first period.

    This has been a particularly shocking, if not embarrassing stretch for the Sharks. In a two-game trip to Dallas and Nashville, against teams below them in the standings, the Sharks were outscored 13-3.

    Martin Jones allowed seven goals on 34 shots faced.

    If Edmonton wins tonight, the Sharks, Ducks and Oilers will be in a three-way tie for first place in the Pacific Division.

    Related: What is wrong with the Sharks?