Fun with ratings: taking a look at the best (and worst) of NHL '11

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Thumbnail image for crosbyovechkinbattlew.jpgHockey video games will always have some wonky player ratings. For one thing, it’s human nature. These things are also almost exclusively subjective.

Years ago, long-washed-up players would still be given the benefit of the doubt (I remember players such as Eric Lindros were great long after their eggs were scrambled beyond effectiveness in real-life). A Stanley Cup ring will make an otherwise goalie just a little too good.

Still, for the most part, game companies get it right. If nothing else, player ratings are an interesting barometer of how a player is perceived. Since NHL ’11 arrived in video game stores on midnight, I thought it might be a good time to take a look at some of the ratings. (Note: these ratings are based on the first roster update found online)

  • Washington Capitals fans rejoice: Alex Ovechkin is a 94 while Sidney Crosby is a 93.
  • American hockey fans can rejoice as well: Ryan Miller is the best goalie in the game at 91. Martin Brodeur is out of the 90’s for the first time in more than a decade (I’d guess) at a still-pretty-good 88.
  • Zdeno Chara is the game’s highest rated defenseman at 89. Robyn Regehr clocks in at an 88 while a handful of D (including Duncan Keith, Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Pronger and Drew Doughty) are almost there at 87.
  • Mason Raymond earns the highest speed rating in the game at 95. Conversely, a handful of players earn the lowest (NHL-level) speed rating of 70, yet somehow Hal Gill isn’t in that group (he’s at 75).
  • Chara earns what I would guess is a perfect body checking rating of 99 (I’ve never seen a 100 rating).
  • As great as Chara is, I’m not sure he really is more defensively aware as Nicklas Lidstrom, even if this is the height of nitpicking. Still, Chara takes that category with a 95 over Lidstrom’s 93.
  • Now that Rod Brind’amour retired, Manny Malhotra is the crowned king of video game faceoffs with a 94 rating.
  • I’ve never seen EA list “hand-eye coordination” as a rating until this year. Alex Ovechkin narrowly takes the category with a 94 rating.
  • Sidney Crosby, Marian Gaborik and Ovechkin are tied for the most accurate wrist shot in the game at 95.

So those are some of the more interesting ratings in NHL ’11. What are some of the most and least accurate ratings? Should Ovechkin be better than Crosby? Is Ryan Miller worthy of the highest goalie rating? Feel free to discuss these and other matters in the comments.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.

Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

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TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.