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.

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)

Report: Islanders cut first-rounder Barzal from camp

Mathew Barzal
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It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.

Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.

Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.

The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit

What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.

Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.