Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Over-rated! (in video games)

Jay Bouwmeester is fucking fast. And he skates like a god damn gazelle.

I say this without the experience of actually watching him play in games. How do I know this, so irrefutably?

Like a god damn gazelle.

Because damn if the guy isn't the closest digital equivalent to Bobby Orr in hockey video games - whether its the 2K series or the EA Sports ones. This fact is made all the more glaring since there really aren't any true threats to his polygonal skating throne (the closest competition would probably be Sergei Gonchar, Sergei Zubov or former Rudy Kelly lover Luber Visnovsky).

So, it is to my great game playing excitement that most hockey pundits are labeling Bow-monster the next Brian Campbell.

Can you imagine what his unparalleled digi-speed and agility could do on a team that, you know, someone would voluntarily watch on TV? What his almost-Afinogenov-like skating would do for a team like Anaheim* or Pittsburgh* or Detroit* or Ottawa*?

At a reasonable 84 this year, it seems like Bouwmeester's rating is actually moderately accurate in NHL '08 (although, answer me this question if you're one of the 5 people who follow the Panthers: is he really that fucking fast?). But year after year he's one of those guys whose "potential" rating made him become a 90 by the age of 25** so I almost wonder if his rating will eventually suffer some residual negativity.

Anyway, this is off the top of my head, but here's a list of players who are comically overrated in hockey video games - with their ratings in parenthesis. Naturally, this is a pretty quick list, so lemme know some obvious ones I've left out in the comments:
  • Michael Peca (86) Somewhere, there is a list floating around the blogosphere. It is titled "Unofficial list of players who inspire irrational hatred." Yeah, Peca is exceedingly mediocre. But maybe people hate him so unfairly because his video hockey skills are so greatly disproportionate to his actual, real life abilities.
  • Eric Lindros (82) I believe that one of the online roster updates finally weeded The Concussed One out of video games.*** But before that, the oft-injured power forward has been a beast on the imaginary ice years beyond his real life relevance. (John Leclair is pretty much in the same spot, with far less "shine a light in his eyes" type jokes)
    It's......probably a good thing that these guys never won a Cup
  • Todd Marchant (80-something) Never noticed it, really, because I never used the Edmonton Oilers back in the day and Marchant's general hockey career has been harmlessly irrelevant. But Sleek pointed him out when I did a top-5 video game countdown and it's changed his digi profile ever since. Since speed is such a huge factor in video games (especially in the days when all you really need to do was deke to score goals), his unrealistic impact has become downright jarring.
I mean, at least Lindros was on The Legion of Doom line.
  • Sergei Fedorov (89) If he was this great in real life again, he could probably re-bang Anna Kournikova.

    Sergei Fedorov and the dudes who decide ratings: both nostalgic.

  • The legacy of Alexei Yashin. Whenever people think of albatross contracts, they usually have to mention him.
But there's also the Yashin effect in games: video game rating makers feel sorry for fans of teams who sign players to albatross contracts and "give 'em a little boost." And why not, really? Those poor fans are the ones that ultimately have to deal with that terror (since GMs typically just pack up their office and move on to a different job).

Rick Dipietro and The Bulin Wall (to a lesser extent) are both well above average goaltenders. But in NHL '08 these guys are equal or even better than J.S. Giguere, Ryan Miller and Henrik Lundqvist. Something tells me that, big contract or not, the Kings would probably want to trade for Khabibulin if he was anywhere near Lundqvist's level.


* - Teams I arbitrarily picked out of a hat for being "potentially good" and maybe, somehow having some serious cap space next summer.

** - The early "franchise modes" of video games really went over the top with these "potential" ratings. If the NHL really worked that way, Gilbert Brule would be a few steps behind Evgeni Malkin and Andrew Raycroft would now be Roy 2.0. It seems like that trend is dying off now, although the creatively devoid Madden series really needs to cut that "team full of 99s" bullshit.

*** - It probably needs to be stated that, for this study, I'm only referring to NHL 08. Because the 2K series might as well cease to exist.


brokeyard said...

Hmm.. as far as the NHL franchise goes... in an interview one of the creators said for '09 that "You could probably go out and play and practice for 10 years and not get better than an 84 or 85" so hopefully they incorporate that into the franchise mode somehow (the quote is in reference to the Be-A-Pro mode)

RudyKelly said...

A few years ago Vitali Vishnevski was a guy you wanted on your team because he would destroy anything that came within 3 feet of him. Oh, and Cammy was pretty awesome in the last game because he was fast as hell.

Unknown said...

When using the Ducks for 06 and 07 it basically didn't matter who I put on the 2nd line because Marchant would just outskate everyone and swoop in towards the goal at the last second and score. Andy Macdonald was the same way on the first line, but he's actually fast in real life.

Julian said...

And MacDondald actually has a pair of hands attached to his arms.

Earl Sleek said...

Andy Macdonald was the same way on the first line, but he's actually fast in real life.

Well, Marchant is actually fast in real life too, the difference is that actual-Marchant is less than the sum of his parts. The video game designers captured components to his game (he's fast, he can carry the puck, he doesn't get knocked over too easily), and when combined, they make for a devastating scorer.

What they miss, as Julian points out, is the programming for stone hands. While the video game Marchant can shoot at a corner of the net, the actual version shoots more at the goalie's logo.

It's hilarious. Last year I played Marchant on the fourth line and 2nd PK unit, and he'd get two goals a game in such limited minutes you'd think he was Mario. It's almost unfair.

Bryan said...

How about the fact that you can actually score with Parros. That should not be allowed. Also I put Rob Niedermayer in the same category as Marchant.

What pissed me off most about 08 was the lack of Hiller and Bobby Ryan. Especially when I had to trade away Bryzgalov to keep my roster updated

Anson Carter. Seriously, he scores way too much on me.

VeryProudofYa said...

Actually, Hiller IS in '08. You just need to look up the Euro team he played for in '07 and roster edit him over. I got bored with using NHLers so I crafted a team of players from various European teams.

Ville Leino's (New Red Wing) a beast in the game, as is Tommi Kallio. You can use Matts Sundin's brother, Ronnie, who for some reason is rated like an 87. Grab Aki Berg or Steve Kariya, plenty of fun to use gems to be found.

As for shitty real life players that tear it up in the virtual world: MA Bergeron. Because, on the whole, the way they figure out speed is broken. (Small players are always faster than shit) Add the fact that he's already a decent skater, and you can go end to end like a mofo with him. Plus, he has a good checking rating. Probably from all those ill-advised position abandoning hits he makes. Also his slap shot's pretty decent.

RudyKelly said...

Frolov is the opposite: he's a great player who sucks in NHL '08. He's not fast and puck possession doesn't really translate very well.

Earl Sleek said...

Heh, last summer I thought Bertuzzi was in that Frolov category (he was slow and awful), but then I found out later in the season that the video game got it right.

Pronger is still a guy I think is more valuable on the ice than in the video game. In pixel form, he's rather slow and pedestrian.

jamestobrien said...

I'm glad you brought up Frolov (I thought I was the only person who notices his digi-dissapointment).

Bertuzzi is way too good of a goal scorer in '08. They need to somehow program him to never go into the corners and almost always over-pass (the "de-magnitized corners" engine would be designed for Bill Guerin as well).

Pronger might not ever be as good as he could be, but they at least gave him an absurd slapshot. My friend probably scored 1,000 cheap Pronger goals on me in '07.

El Gran Ogro said...

Not that it really matters, but the last paragraph in this article, I feel, is somewhat inaccurate. In it, it's stated that, because Khabibulin and DiPietro are both generally "equal or even better than Giggy, R. Miller, and Lundqvist," implying that the only reason those two are better in video games is because of contracts. While this may be true in the case of Giggy and Lundy (i.e., it would be hard-to-impossible to make a good argument that those two were inferior in real life to Khabby and D.P.), Miller's a bad example to bring into this.
In his 3 years in the NHL, Miller's played 205 games, with a 2.69 GAA and a .908 save %. During that time, DiPietro's played 188 games, with a GAA of 2.81, and an identical .908 save % with what is one of the worst defenses in the league. Likewise, Khabby, in his past 2 years has played 110 games wit a GAA of 2.75 and a .905 save %, with another terrible team in front of him. Plus, next year, Miller'll make close to Khabby salary, and significantly more than D.P. (who's contracts only problematic because of the ungodly length).
I do, however, agree with the premise that their value in a video game is overly high; however, this is a problem endemic to all video games, and that is that every one of these have bad injury engines. The problems that DiPietro and Khabby are akin to those of numerous players in hockey and in other sports, in that injuries are making the contracts look much worse than they really are since they can only play about 60-70% of their teams' games. If this injury issue was better reflected in games, and the overall rating suffered if the players injury risk is higher, then the video game ratings might (note: this is a very unlikely might) better reflect reality.

mike w said...

I remember a GM Simulator back in the early nineties that for some reason had Yves Racine as the a Noris candidate EVERY SINGLE SEASON.