Monday, November 28, 2011

NHL 12: Build of the Week -- Grinder

Haven't quite kept up with the pace of once a week for builds but here is an interesting support build I ran for about ten games.

A link to this build can be found here.

Grinder, Legend 3
195 lbs.
13" blades
Regular Stick Flex
Second Lowest Curve

Deking: 90 (+5)
Hand Eye: 60
Off Awareness: 50
Passing: 90 (+5)
Puck Control: 90 (+5)
SS Accuracy: 50
SS Power: 70
WS Accuracy: 64 (+5)
WS Power: 60

Aggression: 90
Body Check: 85 (+5)
Def Awareness: 64
Discipline: 99
Faceoffs: 60
Fighting: 60
Shot Blocking: 70
Stick Check: 91 (+8)

Acceleration: 79 (+5)
Agility: 79 (+5)
Balance: 85 (+5)
Durability: 60
Endurance: 90
Speed: 78 (+5)
Strength: 85 (+5)

As you can see this build is setup to crush the opposition and it is quite good at that. However, let us start with the offensive side of this build. This build is good for scoring from five feet out and that is about it. It is a go to the front of the net and get dirty build. It does have enough deking to score on the break as well but it is practically not fast enough to get into those kinds of positions very often. Passing feels very wooden with this build due to the criminally low offensive awareness but it can be managed. As I mentioned before, this build is defensively setup to take the body sporting high checking and aggression. The aggression also helps with picking up loose pucks both offensively and defensively offsetting the poor defensive awareness. Finally the maxed stick check allows you to take the puck away without a hit as a change of pace. This build skates pretty well for the lower skating stats but won't allow you to blow by people. Luckily you have high strength and balance so you can take an inordinate amount of punishment without being knocked down. Endurance is a touch low for where I like it but it doesn't seem to hurt the build too much.

Overall, this build is best served being used as the 3rd human forward on a line. You can use it to intimidate opposing teams and keep your team from being intimidated. Drive the net hard, play hard on the boards, and hit everything that moves and you will like this build.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

NHL 12: Guide to Playing Defense

It seems like everyone online wants to deke, dance, and snipe their way to victory. While there are a select few who can actually do that the most important way you can help your team win is to play well on the defensive side of the puck. It all starts with overall team systems.


Our neutral zone system of choice is the 1-2-2. It really cuts down the ability of other teams to go cross-ice and  lets us funnel pucks to one side of the ice or the other. The basic idea is one forward pressures the puck while the other forwards sit back to the right and left side of the ice with the two defensemen behind those forwards. The formation looks like this:

F        F
D       D

The center drives the play forcing the attacker with the puck one way or the other, the other fowards and defense shift towards the side the center drives play towards. By doing this it cuts off easy passes through the middle and provides a lot of support around the puck. It also doesn't allow the other team to work up speed coming through the neutral zone. If done correctly you can basically have both forwards and both defensemen stand up in a line across the blueline while the center chases and forces the other team to dump the puck or make a risky play to enter the zone.

If it isn't possible to setup in a formal 1-2-2 we try to keep one forward high in the zone. By that, we mean one forward who is staying around the dots or higher depending on how high up the forwards on the other team are. The further down in the zone they are the further down our third guy can go. The idea here is to have three total defenders back in most situations.

When defending a rush we look for our defenders to stay in front of forwards and delay the attackers while our forwards back check hard up the middle of the ice to take away cross ice passes and poke check at the puck carrier from behind. We only like our D to go for the big hit when they have clear forward support. Typically going for big hits just puts defensemen out of the play and leads to odd man chances.

Defensive Zone

In the defensive zone we generally play a 2-1-2 zone. Our top two guys kind of chase and be aggressive while our center and two defense cover the front of the net. One defender near the left post and one near the right. The center plays around the hash marks and all three players down low look to cut off passes through the middle of the offensive zone. As the puck moves around the zone everyone shifts to keep lanes cut off and try to keep the puck to the outside.

Example 1: If the puck goes into the left corner, the near side D steps out, the LW crashes down on the boards to cut off the pass to the near point, and the RW moves to the hash marks. The C moves to the post the LD vacated. This strategy keeps attackers out of high scoring areas. It does tend to give up some cross ice one timers from the attacking D but the RW on the hash marks can move to block those and it is a lower percentage shot than something from between the dots and posts down low.

Example 2: If the puck goes to the left point point the LW attacks that D. The C, LD, and RD stay in a triangle in the middle and the RW moves to cut off the pass to the other D.

General Tips for Defensemen
  • Turn on colors for both teams. It is under My NHL 12/Settings/Visual Settings then hit RB and set Online Player Indicators to On. This makes it easier to see which forward you are up against and you can figure out tendencies for them.
  • Turn off auto back skate. This is under My NHL 12/Settings/Controller Settings then scroll down the list to find it. It is kind of hidden. This will allow you to control when you go into back skating mode (using LT). Pivoting at the right time to defend an attacker going wide is an important skill to learn and you have to have auto back skate off to do it.
  • Use the poke check rather than the body check most of the time. Take the puck from people rather than crushing them unless you have clear support. Don't use the sweeping poke check. I find multiple discreet pokes works better than sweeping it. Then again your experience might differ.
  • Try to delay forwards until you get back pressure support.
  • Don't leave your feet much if at all unless it is a clear desperation situation (trying to trip a guy on the breakaway or blocking a pass you just can't quite get to). Learn to block shots by getting legs in front of them rather than flopping to the ice. Everyone shoots high so it is going over you if you lie down anyway.
  • Take away whatever shot the player keeps trying to take.Chances are that player has scored from there before and will want to get back to his spot to get away that same shot. As I am fond of saying, "People take shots they think will go in."
General Tips for Forwards
  • Back check hard and down the middle of the ice. At least one forward should back check down to in front of the goalie on each rush to avoid easy crossing passes getting through.
  • Use poke check to harass attackers from behind as you are back checking.
  • Try to block as many shots as possible. Don't lay out. Try to block them standing up or use the LB button. Shots that don't get to the goalie aren't goals (bad bounces aside).
  • Don't cherry pick (hang out in the neutral zone looking for the breakaway while the puck is in the defensive zone). Helping turn the puck over in the defensive zone will lead to offensive opportunities while cherry picking just puts your team down a man.
  • Turn on colors for both teams as mentioned above.
  • Turn off auto back skate as mention above.
  • Take away shots that players like to take between the defenseman and your back checking it is fairly easy to keep players from taking their favorite shots.
  • Don't turn the puck over in the neutral zone or just inside the blue line. It makes getting setup on the back check hard and puts your defenders under undue duress.
If you do these things well you can keep your goals against down and give your team a fighting chance to win games even if you aren't the most offensively gifted team. If you are offensively gifted you can start winning games 6-1 instead of 6-4.

I will be putting together a guide for offense at some point but these posts are pretty big so it could be a while. I also hope to get a build of the week out sometime soon. Been running a grinder for a bit and it is a lot of fun.

Friday, November 11, 2011

NHL 12: Build of the Week -- Two Shot Two Way Forward

I made an assertion that the sniper is the only build where you can have two good shots. I think I have perhaps changed my tune on that front. Because I ran a two way forward with two shots last night and it was pretty good.

A link to the build can be found here.

Sniper, Legend 3
165 lbs.
13" blades
Regular Stick Flex
Second Lowest Curve

Deking: 90 (+5)
Hand Eye: 70
Off Awareness: 71
Passing: 90 (+5)
Puck Control: 87 (+8)
SS Accuracy: 80 (+5)
SS Power: 70
WS Accuracy: 80 (+8)
WS Power: 67 (+5)

Aggression: 66
Body Check: 75
Def Awareness: 99
Discipline: 99
Faceoffs: 65
Fighting: 50
Shot Blocking: 81
Stick Check: 99

Acceleration: 80 (+5)
Agility: 85 (+5)
Balance: 74
Durability: 61
Endurance: 90 (+5)
Speed: 85 (+5)
Strength: 75

As you can see you have to give up quite a bit in the hand eye and offensive awareness attributes but it didn't really seem to bother me offensively. The two shots include a pretty good wrister and a pretty good slapper. I managed to score a slap shot one timer from near the top of the circles with this build and a couple of wristers above the hash marks and in general was able to contribute to the offense effectively.

On defense the build is pretty much the same beastly build as all two way forwards, as you notice you use no boosts on defense on this build but it is still just silly how good it is.

Athletically it is pretty much the same setup as the last two way forward. Acceleration is a touch less than before at 85 but everything else is basically the same.

I have a sort of two shot playmaker I will try to put up next week unless I find something else fun to play with.

Friday, November 4, 2011

NHL 12: Build of the Week -- Sniper

Sorry about the lack of updates lately. I have been getting slammed at work and been busy playing games rather than writing about them.

My build this week is a sniper build as requested by @bret_11 on Twitter.

Here is a link to the build.

Sniper, Legend 3
165 lbs.
13" blades
Regular Stick Flex
Second Lowest Curve

Deking: 90 (+5)
Hand Eye: 86
Off Awareness: 95
Passing: 85 (+5)
Puck Control: 90 (+5)
SS Accuracy: 85
SS Power: 75
WS Accuracy: 85 (+5)
WS Power: 75

Aggression: 40
Body Check: 42
Def Awareness: 67
Discipline: 99
Faceoffs: 60
Fighting: 40
Shot Blocking: 50
Stick Check: 87 (+8)

Acceleration: 80 (+5)
Agility: 82 (+8)
Balance: 70
Durability: 61
Endurance: 90 (+5)
Speed: 82 (+8)
Strength: 64

I will admit I have not played this exact build (although I have played a similar one) and in general I am not a big fan of the sniper this year and haven't found a build I like overall. However, I think this is basically the only build where you can have a good wrister and slapper at the same time. You should be able to snipe off the rush and also setup on the far dot and uncork slappers on cross ice feeds. It is obviously heavy on the offense and athletics. Defensively you have a really good poke check and a marginal defensive awareness. This is a classic perimeter sniper and not built for battling in front of the net. Let me know what you think.

Update: I actually ran this exact build last night for a couple of games and had 5 goals and 5 assists. I scored a couple of goals from near the top of the circles off the rush using the defense as a screen, another slapshot one timer from above the hash marks, a cross crease tap in, and a wrister from around the left dot that beat the goalie to the right side. So this build pretty much performs as expected offensively. Defensively I managed to deflect one puck into my own net then poke check another own goal as well. So this build isn't just good at scoring goals against the other team it is good to score them on yours as well.