Two in the Mailbox – Assorted Thoughts a Week from the 2018-19 Season

We’re a week away from the regular season which means it’s time to roll out the mailbag once again. This will be an abbreviated mailbag since there were limited responses (maybe I should take the hint) and because I had a handful of things I wanted to hit on in a quick hitter format which didn’t really make sense as its own post.

  • I mentioned how the Sabres finally appear to have some quality options to choose from when filling out the roster and it would appear that Tage Thompson and Alex Nylander are knocking on the door for a roster spot. Especially after Andrew Oglevie and CJ Smith were sent to Rochester. Justin Bailey, Nick Baptiste and Victor Olofsson remain in camp along with holdovers such as Johan Larsson, Zemgus Girgensons and Scott Wilson. Waiver eligibility seems to be at play here and will likely shape their final decision but Thompson and Nylander have been among the bigger standouts and offer the upside and offensive chops to help push the Sabres out of the basement. They both look to have an inside track to a roster spot even given their waiver exempt status.
  • Some good news on Conor Sheary was counterbalanced by Zach Bogosian being pulled from Tuesday’s game and Phil Housley noting him as day-to-day. The severity of his injury isn’t known at this point but if he’s already banged up it doesn’t bode too well for his long term outlook for this season given his history. Matt Hunwick is already out longterm which puts the defense corps in an interesting spot. If healthy, the Sabres looked primed to carry eight defensemen and while these injuries don’t change much in that regard, their depth may be called on sooner than expected. Casey Nelson was already going to be challenging for playing time but there’s the potential that a debate over recalling Lawrence Pilut or Brendan Guhle could be here before we know it. And right now, Pilut is the more likely of the two to be called up.
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Time for EA to add real mask art to the NHL series

The first trailer for NHL 15 was released yesterday and a lot of the new graphics make the players look as if they were modeled after wax figurines.

Among the numerous changes to the franchise, more realistic arena details will be included thanks to the technology in the next-gen consoles. But I’m not here to give a review of the game, the new features or anything like that. I’m here to point out how EA Sports has continued to miss the boat with some of the smaller, but more noticeable details in the only worthwhile hockey franchise available to gamers.

The developers at EA continue to add more and more authentic gear to the NHL series and that is a welcome addition that I look forward to every year. It not only adds authenticity to the game itself, but for gear nerds like myself, it’s a cool addition to play with whether you’re creating a player or making trades in Be a GM mode. However, for as detailed as they’ve been in adding gloves, skates, sticks and goalie equipment, they’ve been just as lazy in ignoring the most important piece of gear in the game: goal masks.

The standard should be higher than this.

Each team has two very, very generic masks that each goalie can use that fall somewhere between the old Franklin SH Comp team masks and an MS Paint creation of jersey stripes and team logos. This all from the leading company in sports video games. There seems to be little or no effort being put forth to bring more mask options to the game, nor does there appear to be any effort being put forth to bring actual masks to the game. As an aside, Rick DiPietro had his actual mask featured in a previous version and EA also added Martin Brodeur’s timeless design in NHL 13. But that’s where it ends. Two real masks and a collection of poorly designed masks for the rest of the game.

Perhaps EA was devoted to capturing all the intricacies of each team’s arena for NHL 15 which caused them to overlook their goaltenders. That is a respectable excuse in that more people will notice and complain about generic, cookie cutter arenas than they will about generic, cookie cutter goal masks. Hell, EA not only has the orientation of First Niagara Center wrong but they’ve been using an incorrect jersey numbers and lettering for the Sabres for some time now. Not to mention the Sabres have two different colorways for home and away gloves – I’m a gear nerd, like I said.

The solution here isn’t much different than the solution EA came up with for the arenas. They simply need to devote the time to adjusting the designs for each team to better reflect actual masks. They could also get the rights from each painter for their masks and actually build out each goaltender’s authentic design. The latter would take more effort, but it would also make the game much cooler. Continue reading