Video game critics give 'NHL 2K11' middling reviews

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for nhl2k11kesler.jpgAs excited as many people are for the opportunity to veg out today, my guess is a lot of hockey fans are eagerly awaiting midnight. That’s because game stores (might) be open for midnight sales, which means that video game enthusiasts and puckheads alike will gain their first chance to purchase NHL ’11 (and the same probably goes for EA Sports’ Wii-specific debut title, NHL Slapshot).

So if you’re EA Sports’ competition 2K Sports, today is your last day in the sun as the first hockey video game to be released in honor of the 2010-11 season. Since I lack a Nintendo Wii, I thought I’d take a look at what game critics are saying about NHL 2K11. gathers six game reviews of the title, giving it a composite score of 64 out of 100 “mixed or average reviews” using whatever formula that Web site employs. gives it a “passable” rating of 6.5 out of 10.

NHL 2K11 had a lot of potential, a notion that’s accentuated once you feel the one-to-one dekeing for the first time. Sadly once you spend some time with the title you’ll realize that the shooting mechanics and AI could’ve really used some fine tuning to avoid some of the needless frustrations. If you’re a diehard hockey fan I think there will be enough for you to enjoy to warrant a look, but I’d recommend picking up a Classic Controller for maximum enjoyment.

Gamespot gave it a mediocre score of 5.5 out of 10, the harshest of all reviews for the title.

It’s actually pretty odd that NHL 2K11 turned out so mediocre. 2K Sports dumped the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game to focus solely on the Wii edition this year, so you might think that the game would be better, not markedly worse and loaded down with a lot of outdated data. Regardless of the reasons behind this year’s problems, 2K is going to have to go back to the dressing room for next year’s Wii game and work on making the motion controls more responsive.

Cheat Code Central gave it a 3.7 out of 5 overall. Here’s an excerpt from their review.

Those looking for a truly realistic and user-friendly experience, one where players intuitively move their hands like they’re playing hockey and the on-screen players move along, won’t be happy. MotionPlus does not make this game any simpler or easier to learn. Hockey, when played with any degree of seriousness, simply requires too many different moves, and even a souped-up Wii controller can’t detect them all by motion alone. So, if you want to go with MotionPlus (you can still use the Classic Controller or an unmodified Wii-mote), you’re forced to learn a fairly complicated system. A decent tutorial is provided, and we highly recommend it.

So there you have it. Some called it more of a retread or a missed opportunity while others found it underwhelming overall. To give you perspective, NHL ’10 earned a metacritic score of 88 out of 100 on both Playstation 3 and X-Box 360. The 2K series was competitive during the PS2-era but hasn’t matched the innovation provided by EA Sports. Will a year off give them a chance to catch up? From the looks of the Nintendo Wii-only version’s reviews, they’ll need it.

Ilya Kovalchuk aiming for NHL return after 5 years away

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MOSCOW (AP) Former NHL forward Ilya Kovalchuk says he wants to return to the league this summer and play there for “several more years.”

Kovalchuk tells Russian state sports channel Match TV that if he doesn’t try again to win a Stanley Cup, “I won’t forgive myself for it when I get older.”

Kovalchuk, who won the Olympic gold medal last month, says he’s focused on winning the Kontinental Hockey League with SKA St. Petersburg, “but in the summer I’m going to examine offers” from the NHL.

He adds that he wants to match Russian teammate Pavel Datsyuk as a member of the so-called triple gold club of players who have won the Olympic gold medal, world championship, and Stanley Cup.

Kovalchuk walked out on the New Jersey Devils in 2013 to return to Russia, where he has since won two KHL titles.

The Buzzer: Kane nets four; Preds first to clinch

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Players of the Night:

Evander Kane, San Jose Sharks: It took him 565 NHL games and three teams, but Kane now has his first NHL hat trick. Then he made sure to grab his first four-goal NHL game for the hell of it. Kane has five goals and 10 points in eight games since the trade deadline, the most of any player dealt this year on deadline day.

Mike Hoffman, Ottawa Senators: Hoffman had an assist in regulation and then one-timed his fifth game-winning goal of the season in overtime to help the Senators past the Dallas Stars.

Nashville Predators: For no other reason than they claimed first blood in a 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche, becoming the first team this season to clinch a playoff spot.

Highlights of the Night:

Bravo, Johnny:

Kane’s hat trick goal:



Factoids of the Night:


Senators 3, Stars 2 (OT)

Capitals 6, Islanders 3

Predators 4, Avalanche 2

Sharks 7, Flames 4

Ducks 4, Red Wings 2

Wild 4, Golden Knights 2

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Rangers getting a good look at the future, despite playoff disappointment

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Silver linings for teams far off the playoff line are few and far between at this time of the year.

But if there is one that can be taken for any team looking at re-tooling or rebuilding for next season, it’s the ability to take a look at the future crop against NHL adversaries.

The New York Rangers are one of these teams. They declared themselves open for business prior to the trade deadline and dealt away some big names, including Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh, for some younger talent.

They’re also facing a challenge with aging goaltender Henrik Lundqvist who, as great as he is, won’t win the battle with Father Time.

Needing to fill holes at several positions, the Rangers have been able to take a good look at a couple of promising prospects, including what may well be their future between the pipes.

New York has played rookie Alexandar Georgiev six times and owns a 3-2-0 record since he played his first NHL game on Feb. 22. Despite picking up the loss, Georgiev allowed just two goals on 40 shots for a .950 save percentage.

He’d give up four in his next start the following night, but since then has amassed three straight wins, including a 37-save performance on Wednesday against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. He’ll be called upon again on Saturday, another test and another chance for evaluation.

The inital analysis is promising. Georgiev is sitting on a very respectable .929 save percentage in his brief time in the NHL and he’s already turning heads around the league.’s Kevin Woodley’s wrote that Georgiev is taking after the likes of Andrei Vasilevskiy, Semyon Varlamov and Sergei Bobrovsky — some pretty good company.

Blueshirt Banter’s Tom Urtz Jr. took a really deep dive in Georgiev, concluding by calling him a “pleasant surprise.”

There’s a lot to like about him, his potential is visible, and the circumstances are set up in his favor for him to be able to prove himself more in an extended setting next season,” Urtz Jr. wrote.

Shifting to the men in the rearguard, Neal Pionk is making the most the big minutes he’s been getting over the past 17 games, and he’s starting to produce.

Pionk is on a three-game point streak with five assists during that span.

Also 22 and also undrafted, Pionk, like Georgiev, is showing real promise on defense.

“He competes hard and he’s got a good skill set,” Vigneault told on Friday. “He can make that good pass and there’s no doubt that in his college and prior to that, he was considered an offensive defenseman. He’d join the rush and was good on the power play, so there is some upside there with him. We need to continue to work at his game and continue to improve it.”

The Rangers appear to have some budding young talent and an array of players to build around with the likes Pavel Buchnevich, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jimmy Vesey — assuming they sign the latter two who are set to become RFAs at the end of this season.

And perhaps most importantly, the Rangers, who have long held the distinction as a team where old players go to get older, seem to finally be favoring youth over past-their-prime talent.

That’s good news for Rangers fans.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Ducks lose Bieksa for 2-5 weeks


ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa will be out for two to five weeks after surgery to remove scar tissue from his left hand.

Bieksa is having surgery Friday, the Ducks announced.

The 36-year-old Bieksa has eight assists in 59 games this season for Anaheim, which is fighting to get into playoff position with three weeks left in the regular season.

Anaheim recalled defenseman Korbinian Holzer from its AHL affiliate in San Diego before facing the Detroit Red Wings at Honda Center on Friday night.

The Ducks have won five consecutive Pacific Division titles and made five straight postseason appearances, reaching the Western Conference finals last season. But Anaheim (35-24-12) began this weekend out of playoff position and in fourth place in the Pacific.

More AP NHL: