22 March 2009

PS3 NHL09: Success in Net

Playing goalie is finally fun in NHL09. It's probably taken me much longer than most, but with #30 Kirk McLean (ver. 3.0) I've finally realized success and ended the endless frustration. Having said that, gaining goalie xp is still agonizingly slow.

McLean 3.0 has a GAA of 1.40 and save percentage of 96.7. McLean 3.0 is a hybrid and glove-left -- though I doubt these changes are the main reason for his marked improvement.

After each game your goalie is graded in three areas: Positioning, Team Play, and Statistics. The better your grades the more xp you gain and the more starts you get.

Positioning is simple... A+ all the way. Accomplishing this is easy since a blue arrow indicates the direction and distance of the puck making positioning just a matter of centering your goalie on the arrow. Back to the arrow later.

Team play for a goalie, for me, varies from game to game. As far as I can tell success in this area depends entirely on whether or not you pass the puck at appropriate times, with team mates conveniently telling you to freeze or play the puck as the situation warrants. Unfortunately, often when they tell me to pass the puck I think they're crazy. So... some games Team Play is better than others. If could figure out how to leave my net as far as computer controlled goalies can I might be more consistent in this category.

Statistics is stopping the puck, and the area I had been having headaches with. In retrospect, my obstinacy played a role in my misfortunes in net but I don't think I was completely to blame. It's that darn arrow.
  • Being obstinate: McLean 1.0 played the entire regular season and the playoffs steadfast in the belief that it was his teammates' responsibility to clear out rebounds or to at least tie up opposing players in front. This led to McLean challenging the shooter, taking an extra step forward when he would have been better served taking a step back. Taking that step forward left McLean vulnerable to lateral passes and rebounds.
  • That darn arrow: squaring yourself perfectly against the puck is good when the shooter is straight out in front, but doing so at an angle other than perpendicular meant McLean 1.0 (and short-lived 2.0) played too much over on the short side.
Some other tactics I've learned that have helped McLean 3.0:
  • You don't need to completely follow the shooter or pass when it moves laterally in front of the net -- if you do it's often easy for McLean to move too far and leave the open side uncovered. Instead, center yourself in the net. You have a shorter distance to move and you can still cover both sides of the net.
  • When a winger comes down the boards keep the short side covered but moving too much over will leave a gap on the far side (cheat a little and don't completely center yourself on the arrow).
  • Poke-check whenever they skate out from behind the goal line (and they're in range, of course). It will more often than not save you heartache.
  • Some computer-controlled goalies (eg. Luongo) move far beyond the crease when challenging the point even with the opposing team already set-up in the zone, and can still make it back in position if they pass rather than shoot. Slowpoke McLean is better off deeper in net than out too far.
  • Learn to at least accept good shots, bad goals, turn-overs, and malfunctioning D-men, if not your own D scoring on you.

17 March 2009

PS3 NHL09: Reboot

After Picard and McLean both won the Stanley Cup for their respective teams I decided to start all over rather than continue with a 2nd season for these players.

I've already noticed that Picard 2.0, at 6'3" and 208 lbs., doesn't get knocked off his feet as often as version 1.0 at 6' and 185lbs. Picard 2.0 as before is playing for the Manitoba Moose, at the "Rookie" level to make it easier to boost his stats for the first season.

As for McLean 2.0, after trying a couple different teams and different styles McLean 2.0 began his career with the Moose, as well, at the "Pro" difficulty. I've pretty much resigned myself to the snail's pace goalies gain xp, no matter how well they play.

I'd originally avoided having my goalie play for the Canucks' AHL affiliate because of... well... Luongo. But hey, I get extra motivated playing for my home team; so there you go.

Anywhoo, McLean 2.0 was called up after only 5-6 games with the Moose, is 7-0 with the Canucks, and preparing for his 4th consecutive start. Luongo (10 games, 6 wins) has the better GPA, but McLean 2.0 the better save percentage. Certainly, I'd be very surprised if human players weren't given an advantage when EA Sports was programming NHL09.

08 March 2009


I rented Passchendaele on BD the other day. It reminded me of why I originally purchased a PS3 in the first place -- to watch BDs. I guess it's been a while since I viewed a BD; once again I was impressed by the graphics.

Anywhoo, it's always a treat to watch Paul Gross, an actor/director I've always liked and try to make a point of watching. It's set in WWI, with events leading up to and including part of a battle at Passchendaele. Frankly, I'd never heard of Passchendaele and the role of the Canadian Corps there before this movie. I wish they taught this portion of Canadian history in class.

Passchendaele's first half is mostly romance with the latter half moving to the battlefield.

Personally, I think this movie is better than Saving Private Ryan, for reasons I won't say to avoid any spoilage. I will say that it's in part because after watching Passchendaele I didn't feel like walking in front of a bus like I did after watching Saving Private Ryan. Don't mistake me, I wasn't jumping for joy at the end, but nevertheless Passchendaele manages to be solemn and sad without force feeding extreme depression.

I'll leave it at that, and give Passchendaele 3.5 out of 5 stars.