By Ryan Jahnke
EA Sports’ annual hockey video game is my 3rd favorite thing about the season, right behind games at the Rock and games at the Cottage Pub in Teaneck, NJ. So now that I can watch my Devils and play a bit of NHL ’13, my nerd-brain is pretty happy. But, as always, my good time takes a bit of a hit after seeing the statistical ratings that the Devils receive from the creators every year.
For those of you with actual social-lives, let me take a quick second to explain what I’m talking about. The value of every player within the game has to be reduced to a number in key areas such as speed, shot power and accuracy, puck control, awareness, etc. Each of these attributes are prioritized, rated from 50 to 100, and their weighted values are tabulated to come up with the player’s overall rating. The average of these ratings also determines the team’s rating, an area in which the Devils are near the bottom.
There’s no easy way to say this, but the Devils are criminally underrated, and the online roster updates haven’t helped things much. Let me put this into perspective.
Roberto Luongo is an 89 out of 100 and Ilya Bryzgalov an 86. Both of their starting positions were lost last year, yet their ratings are impressive, even up from the previous year’s games. Martin Brodeur, statistically the greatest goalie of all time, is an 82. That’s only one point better than Rick DiPietro, whose last noteworthy moment in the NHL was losing a goalie fight with a ridiculous grin on his face.
Even in his advanced age, that’s pretty insulting. There are a lot of great goalies out there, but you would be hard pressed to find anybody that would take one season from Bryzgalov or Tuukka Rask over Marty.
It doesn’t stop there. In terms of these ratings, the Devils are reduced from the defending Eastern Conference champions, to Ilya Kovalchuk (rated 90 overall), Adam Larsson (rated 84), and the rest. According to the people at EA Sports, newly appointed captain Bryce Salvador is the worst defender on the team, at 79. First line center, Travis Zajac, is an 84, while 30-goal scorer, David Clarkson, is an 81. Patrik Elias, who ranked 10th in the NHL in points last season, is an 82.
It’s hard to figure out where they get these numbers from, they almost seem random. Common sense might lead you to think that they’re based on last year’s performances, but then why no love for Sal, or Danius Zubrus (another 79), or even the rated 69 Petr Sykora?? I’d also like to point out to the people at EA Sports that Sykora isn’t actually on the team.
I just think that they aren’t paying attention, which we can see from looking at what they did to fan favorite, Stephen Gionta. Everyone that watched last year’s playoffs fell in love with the Little Giant. Not only was he a familiar name, being the younger brother of former Devil and current Montreal Captain, Brian Gionta, but he was a great story.
Gionta has been with the Devils as a minor leaguer since 2005, when the Devils picked him up as an undrafted free agent. Despite his small size, he worked his way to captain of the Albany Devils and finally got an extended stretch with the pro club in April of last year, and became one of the team’s top playoff scorers. This man made his mark on the NHL, and how did EA Sports reward him? With a rating of 64, three points lower than last year’s game, and two points LOWER than Cam Janssen who registered fewer points last year than Brodeur. CAM JANSSEN!
It’s even hard to even to understand some of the love that they did show to the Devils. I am a huge supporter of Larsson, and I know that he will be a great part of the team sooner rather than later, but he’s rated 84. Really? That makes him better than every defender the Devils have, and three points better than Adam Henrique, rated 81, who was our actual Rookie of the Year contender. Larsson was also rated higher than Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog, 82, who actually won the award.
What’s worse is that this happens every year, and no matter how much the Devils do, it never seems to change. Before roster updates were available, NHL 13 gamers who used the Devils still had Eric Boulton in their lineup, and he was signed by the Islanders on July 2nd. The game wasn’t released in America until September 11th. Apparently, an Eastern Conference title just isn’t enough to turn heads over there at EA, so I guess they’ll just have to go out there and get their fourth Cup. You can always change player ratings manually, which is good because Philly seems to be pretty overrated.
*For those that are interested, here is the complete NHL roster, accurate as of January, 14th. Let us know where you think they went wrong in the comments below.*
Kovalchuk – 90
Larsson – 84
Zajac – 84
Tallinder – 83
Volchenkov – 82
Brodeur – 82
*Henrique – 81
Clarkson – 81
Greene – 80
Zidlicky – 80
Salvador – 79
Zubrus – 79
Fayne – 79
Butler – 75
Bernier – 74
Carter – 73
Harrold – 73
Hedberg – 73
*Sykora – 69
Barch – 67
Janssen – 66
Gionta – 64
* – Henrique is hurt, and not with the NHL team yet, and Sykora is not on our Roster at all. Matt Corrente, Tim Sestito and Jacob Josefson are listed on the game’s AHL roster, and are rated 72, 70 and 75 respectively.