When it came time to think of the second NHL 12 STAT BOX STORIES entry I wanted to put together for this blog, my decision became very easy as soon as EA SPORTS announced that the first title update–released last week on November 1st, 2011–would update the game to include the uniforms of the reborn Winnipeg Jets franchise. As a long-time NHL fan and EA SPORTS gamer, I fondly remember the days of playing as the Jets on the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis; long before the franchise was folded and sent packing to Arizona, an unlikely home for an NHL franchise.
With the return of the Jets to the NHL this season, what better match-up than to pit them against the team that they once became?
Of course, the team returns to Winnipeg with none of its previous players or history intact; instead, the sale of the Atlanta Thrashers franchise provided the opportunity for hockey to return to its birthplace and add another team north of the border. As a result, the Jets face a bit of a rebuilding period as a team which struggled to find any consistency now finds itself uprooted; though thankfully to a fanbase happy to receive them.
A stark contrast from my game as the Canadiens against the Bruins last week, I was outshot terribly in the first period of this game between Phoenix and Winnipeg. With an 11-2 deficit in shots on goal, I was unbelievably fortunate to escape the opening frame with the game still tied at zero. Even though I took a 7-6 shots advantage in the second period, however, Phoenix managed to convert one of its opportunities to take a 1-0 lead. Entering the third period, I knew that I would be facing a difficult road to try and get myself back into the game.
Part of the issue I faced through the first two periods, obviously, was having to kill off penalties. I racked up a hat trick of penalties over the course of the game–one per period–but I was able to rely on the Jets’ defense to keep myself in the game. With the one-goal deficit as the game drew to a close, however, Tanner Glass was able to atone for his second period penalty by scoring just before the midway point of the third period to pull the game even.
Even though I was able to kill the third and final penalty late in the game, neither team was able to mount much of an effort in the 5-minute overtime period. Of the five shots between the Coyotes and Jets, none of them came close to helping me avoid the result I always dread going into any game of NHL 12: a game decided by a shootout. While I may have embraced the opportunity to stop shooters on penalty shots when I played the goaltender position in my younger days, my inability to effectively deke opposing goalies in the NHL video game series consistently makes it difficult for me to emerge victorious in any games that progress beyond an overtime period.
Both of the goalies–Mike Smith for Phoenix and Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg–proved to be more than up for the task in the one-on-one competion through the three standard rounds of shot attempts. It took six rounds of shooters before Patrick O’Sullivan finally netted a goal and put the pressure on me–and Nik Antropov–to level the score and force a seventh round of shootout attempts. Unfortunately–just as with my previous five attempts–the shot was easily handled by Smith and the Phoenix fanbase were able to celebrate a shootout victory over the team which surely will be gunning for them in every match-up this coming season.
Despite being outshot, I actually spent more Time on Attack than Phoenix over the course of the game–though this can probably be attributed more to the desperation I was forced to play with in the third period as I was in danger of losing the game in regulation. Of course, the 6 minutes that the Coyotes spent on the power play over the course of the game negated my chances of truly mounting effective scoring chances through much of the game; instead, my attention turned to clearing the puck out of my own zone and trying to keep my penalty killers fresh and prevent the mid-game deficit from growing any larger.
Even though it was in a losing effort, I agreed with the game’s selection of Ondrej Pavelec as 1st Star of the game; without him, the game could’ve been much worse, and likely would not have made it to overtime, let alone a shootout. With six opportunities to convert a penalty shot, there’s no reason I shouldn’t have been able to score on at least one of those one-on-one situations. Even though it was something I’d already known, this game further cemented my need to practice my shootout attempts. The penalty shot goal I scored in last week’s game for NHL 12 was more a result of luck than skill; in order to prvent myself from taking an automatic loss in any game of NHL 12 which goes to a shootout, much work will be necessary before next week’s game.
I feel as though in some way I have failed the Winnipeg fanbase through this result; the good thing for those Jets fans, however, is that they finally have a team again in NHL 12 and future games to come. Be sure to come back tomorrow for the next FIFA 12 entry of STAT BOX STORIES and be sure to come back next week for the next game of NHL 12!