While the real NHL season gets underway tomorrow night, gamers have been ahead of the curve since the recent release of EA Sports' NHL 14. They've gotten the jump on the rest of us when it comes to seeing how different line combinations and defense pairs work together, because we all know that video games pretty much perfectly replicate the game on ice, right?
Well, even if that's not the case, the NHL series of video games is an incredibly addictive way to exercise our inner hockey player, head coach or general manager. One of the special aspects of this year's edition is the "NHL '94 Anniversary Mode", which takes us back to those halcyon days of yore when 16-bit graphics were the cutting edge of in-home entertainment.
Those NHL games from the mid-90's are near and dear to my heart, as they probably added 2-3 years to the time it took for me to get through college thanks to all the distractions they provided. So in honor of this anniversary edition, I thought it would be worth speculating about how the Nashville Predators of today might appear in Ye Olde NHL 94:
Shea Weber, of course, would be a blast to play with. You'd have to turn Penalties Off so that you could smash opposing forwards into the boards with abandon, because when you combine his physical strength with his skating ability, you won't be able to resist putting your all into every hit. Add in his powerful slap shot (the one-timer was a new feature included in NHL 94), and you get a terrifying combination of Al MacInnis and Derian Hatcher on the blueline.
Colin Wilson has the makings of a power forward, strong enough to keep the puck on his stick while fighting off opposing defensemen trying to keep him from charging to the net. Even though this guy didn't have quite the offensive upside that Willy does, I was usually able to wring that kind of play out of Vancouver's Sergio Momesso.
Gabriel Bourque is all about the speed, and although this takes me one year further back into the past, in NHLPA 93 there was a player who was pretty much a scrub, Philadelphia's Brad Jones, and offered nothing more as a player other than straight-line speed. If I hit him in stride with a pass coming out of the defensive zone, however, forget about it - he would blow by any defenseman in the game and zoom in for a breakaway.
Sure, there's a righty-lefty mismatch here, but Paul Gaustad reminds me of Joel Otto, a big, tough, SOB of a center who made life hell for opposing forwards in the defensive zone. He was the type of guy who could win just about any board battle and bring your enemy's offense to a grinding halt.
If we're lucky, Viktor Stalberg will develop into the modern version of Michel Goulet - a speedy and sizeable winger who wasn't shy about shooting off the rush and posed a threat to score at any time.
Patric Hornqvist is very much a modern version of Dino Cicarelli - get him around the goal crease and have him work for tips and rebounds while driving opposing defensemen crazy.
Which Other Nashville Predators Fit With NHL 94?
For those of you who have every played the old-time classic, what other current Nashville Predators remind you of players from that era? Check out this PDF of the game's manual, which includes rosters towards the end, and sound off in the comments below...