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NHL 12 video preview: EA Sports unveils ‘revamped’ Be a Pro mode

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(Want more information about EA Sports’ next hockey game NHL 12? PHT has been all over the latest developments. Here’s a video preview of the game’s “hat trick” of innovations. For a sneak peak at the series’ first ever inclusion of the Winter Classic, click here. Finally, check out an item about Steven Stamkos being the game’s cover star.)

At this point in the summer, the 2011-12 season still seems like it’s far off in the distance. That being said, hockey video games can often be a nice way to satiate that craving for puck-based action. EA Sports is really the only major game in town, so it makes sense that anticipation is building for the September 13 release of NHL ’12, the latest iteration of its series.

The software company is releasing information for the game in a slow but satisfying trickle, but there were certain elements that went without a mention in their latest presentation. While fans will need to wait a bit longer for more information about its online changes (if there are any), EA provided a tantalizing preview of the alterations it made to its well-received Be a Pro Mode.

Here’s the video from GameTrailers.com. (You can view the HD version of this trailer by clicking here.)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

If there’s a general theme to the changes featured in that video it is depth. Be a Pro originally dropped a player briefly in the AHL before you worked your way up (sometimes quite quickly) to the NHL level. This career mode goes a lot deeper, giving you the option to start all the way down in the ECHL.

Beyond that, it seems like there are just more steps and things to do. EA claims that there are 18 “levels” for a player, which could be a very rewarding system if it is implemented with grace. One thing that seemed really promising was the “Action Tracker.” We all want to immortalize our own silly triumphs, so that system could be a great way of making trivial video game accomplishments feel more rewarding.

There was also a quick little snippet of information that revealed some specific coaching tasks. That can add some welcome variety to the game as long as those tasks are considered “bonus” features rather than tedious, ultra-specific duties that you’re forced to complete.

More and more, NHL ’12 is looking promising, even if it seems like most of the changes build upon the foundation rather than shaking it up altogether. We’ll keep you updated as news filters through while the September launch date approaches.

(H/T to Sean Leahy. Screenshot via Operation Sports.)

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight

Stanley Cup
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There’s nothing better than a Game 7, especially when a spot in the Stanley Cup Final is up for grabs. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins will battle in a do-or-die game for the right to play the San Jose Sharks with Lord Stanley on the line. You can watch the game via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh (8:00 p.m. ET)

The television broadcast of Game 7 will be on NBCSN. To stream the game using the Live Extra app, click here.

Here’s some reading material to get you ready for this one:

Penguins, Lightning prepare for ‘roller coaster’ Game 7

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

Video: Brouwer was big for Blues

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Troy Brouwer made quite an impression in his first year with the St. Louis Blues. After being acquired from the Capitals for T.J. Oshie, the 30-year-old scored 18 goals and 39 points in 82 games during the 2015-16 season. His eight goals and 13 points during the playoffs weren’t too shabby either.

Brouwer took on more of a signficant role in the postseason. His points-per-game increased, his ice time increased and he was more productive on the man-advantage (3 goals in 20 games). While the Blues were fighting for their playoff lives in Games 4 and 5 of the Western Conference Final, Brouwer contributed three goals.

Now, the Blues will have to find a way to keep him around. His playoff success likely means that he’ll be expecting a substantial raise between now and the end of the league year on July 1st. Brouwer is set to become an unrestricted free agent on that day.

Brouwer came with a cap hit of $3.66 million and it wouldn’t be surprising to see that number climb higher, especially if he hits the open market.

The Blues also need to work out deals with other pending free agents like captain David Backes and Jaden Schwartz (RFA). There isn’t a ton of money left under the cap in St. Louis, which means that GM Doug Armstrong will have to get creative this summer.

One of the things Armstrong and head coach Ken Hitchcock liked about Brouwer was the way he seemed to fit in right away.

“He was on the team for a month,” Hitchcock explained earlier this week, per the Vancouver Sun. “I think my meetings were a little bit too long.  He told me it would be best if I kept them a little briefer.  So I knew he had a bite on the team right away. It didn’t take him long to get comfortable with us, which is great.”  

How much will comfort count for in the off-season negotiations between club and player? We’ll find out soon enough.

PHT Morning Skate: Jim Craig doesn’t regret selling ‘Miracle on Ice’ memorabilia

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

–These parents named their baby girl after Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov. (ABC News)

–The  hockey card that helped inspire a Tragically Hip song. (Puck Junk)

–The fan who promised to get a tattoo of Gary Bettman if LA and Chicago were eliminated in the first round kept his word. (Bardown)

–Watch the highlights from last night’s game between the Sharks and Blues. (Top)

–Jim Craig doesn’t regret auctioning off most of his “Miracle on Ice” memorabilia. (Yahoo)

–A Q & A with former Quebec Nordiques forward Peter Stastny. (ESPN)

–Former Flyers coach Craig Berube breaks down Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. (NHL)

Hitch: ‘I see the devastation in our locker room’

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Despite a late comeback attempt, the 2015-16 season came to an end for the St. Louis Blues, as they lost the Western Conference Final in six games to the San Jose Sharks.

And with Wednesday’s loss, the off-season will settle upon the Blues. It will be an intriguing one in St. Louis, starting with their head coach Ken Hitchcock. He’s on a one-year deal and he has already outlined that he’s fine with taking short-term contracts. But is an appearance in the conference final enough to solidify his place behind the St. Louis bench for next year?

The Blues have, according to General Fanager, five pending unrestricted free agent forwards, including Scottie Upshall, Kyle Brodziak, Steve Ott, and most notably Troy Brouwer and David Backes.

Backes, 32, is the team’s captain and coming off a 21-goal, 45-point regular season, which is a decline from the numbers — 26 goals and 58 points — he posted the year before. Brouwer, 30, enjoyed the best post-season of his career, with eight goals and 13 points in 20 games, and he could potentially cash in on that this summer.

However, while there are questions ahead for the Blues, the emotional toll this loss took was clear.

“I see the devastation in our locker room right now. Guys aren’t even able to speak. I’m more worried about our guys right now, to be honest with you. We got some guys that are pretty shook up right now,” said Hitchcock to reporters.

“I’m not going to talk to them for a day or two. They need their space with each other. They’ve bonded together here better than any team I’ve coached in the last 10 years. They need their time together. They don’t need me interrupting them right now. We’ll talk at an appropriate time. But right now they need to be with each other.”