A Virtual Reality?

Can this game predict the future?

In some combination of a shameless plug and sheer boredom, the NHL.com website has recently simulated the upcoming hockey year using the soon-to-be released game NHL 12.  That in itself wouldn’t be news in itself, but the writers have decided to “re-draft” all the players in the league.  That’s to say that every player was claimed fantasy style by a team in an NHL Draft format.

You wouldn’t be alone if you thought that idea was silly, but it does provide some interesting scenarios.  For example, Sidney Crosby, the first overall pick, was drafted by Edmonton.  And yes, Panther fans, Alex Ovechkin would be playing for Florida!  It’s a lot of wishful thinking if you ask me.  However, what the heck would our record be if the Great 8 would skate around Sunrise?  The regular season results have just come in, and its pretty interesting.

To skip directly to my hometown allegiance, the Panthers fared well, to say the least.  Ovie wound up scoring 55 goals, and his linemate, Logan Couture, racked 90 points.  The Panthers finished their season with 103 points and placed fifth in the Eastern Conference.  My colleague Frank Rekas went deeper into the new roster and lineup for the Panthers, and despite a weak defense and average goaltending position, Florida put together a strong season.  The postseason results will be released by the time this article is published, so go to NHL.com to check it out if you’d like.

Other than the Panthers, I did find some things interesting in this simulation: the Sedin twins were split up, as Henrik landed in Tampa Bay while Daniel went to Toronto.  The New York Rangers finished dead last in the NHL standings with 64 points, despite having Joe Thornton, Marc Streit, Jaromir Jagr, and Victor Hedman.  The Columbus Blue Jackets, however, finished with 115 points.  Having Jonathan Toews and Rick Nash on the same line payed dividends.  First in the Eastern Conference was the Carolina Hurricanes, who had a Steven Stamkos to anchor the top line.  His draft choice was interesting to me: how could the cover athlete and one of last year’s leading scorers be picked 12th?  He seemed to be at least a top-five pick.  Roberto Luongo and Nicklas Backstrom were both picked before him.

So what did we learn from this NHL 12 simulation?  Not much, but it does show that Sidney Crosby can dominate no matter what city he plays in.  Crosby scored 121 points and was a plus-15.  He won the virtual Hart and Art Ross trophies, as well as the Ted Lindsay Award.  But perhaps if he had a virtual concussion, his stats wouldn’t be as inflated.  Also, Roberto Luongo is still sharp.  He had 43 wins, a 2.21 goals-against-average, and a .935 save percentage with Ottawa.  Shea Weber must be the best defenseman in the league.  He won the Norris Trophy, despite his Wild team missing the playoffs.  Jonathan Toews won the Frank Selke Trophy, so he must be the best two-way forward in the game.  Finally, Daniel Sedin won the Lady Byng Trophy for the most “gentlemanly” style of game play.  He ended the year with only four penalty minutes.

Overall, I think this is a lousy placeholder for real NHL hockey.  I really can’t wait for the Panthers’ actual team to hit the ice this fall, but this will have to do for now.  Also, when I inevitably buy my own copy of NHL 12, I’ll be sure to use the real rosters.

Like always, thanks for reading!  Be sure to comment!

Follow the Rat Pack on Twitter: me @ScottFMullin, Frank Rekas @TheRatTrick, David Lasseter @davidlasseter, Josh Luecht @joshluecht, Adam Reid @AdamReid, and Patrick McLaughlin @patrckmclaughln .  Also, please join our Facebook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and make some comments.

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