Top-5 Goalie Ratings in EA Sports NHL 15 Revealed
As EA Sports bills hype for the fall launch of NHL 15, the latest in it’s annual hockey video game series, they have been releasing the top-5 rated players at each position. This week they revealed their top-ranked goaltenders and the order, if not the names, may surprise a few.
According to EA, the attributes that made up overall ratings were divided into three categories: Reflexes, Puck Control and Athletic ability.
Reading through some of the individual notes attached to the top-5 rated goaltenders, however, it’s clear they have broken down the skills that go into each category, with things like glove hand and aggressiveness cited appropriately in the rankings for Pekka Rinne and Jonathan Quick.
Speaking of Rinne, lets start by looking at EA Sports’ fifth-ranked goalie:
5. Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators – 91 Rating Overall
This may surprise some after the big Finn missed most of last season due to an infection in his surgically repaired hip that required a second operation, but anyone who watched him play at the World Championships at the end of the season should be confident in Rinne’s ability to bounce back next season. He was named tournament MVP and top goalie after posting a save percentage that dipped to .928 during a lopsided loss to Russia in the championship game, but was the biggest reason the sometimes overmatched Finns left with a silver medal. Appropriately, EA Sports noted Rinne “has one of the league’s best glove hands – carrying a (90) Glove High rating.” It’s a glove hand that has been noted often in the past here at InGoal for its roots in Finnish baseball and how much the Predators rely on it to limit second chances.
4. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins – 92 Rating Overall
Rask will be featured on the cover of the upcoming relaunch of InGoal Magazine, and the related story features a goaltending coach who has worked with him breaking down the skills that make him one of the NHL’s best. But it’s interesting that the reigning Vezina Trophy winner is not higher on EA Sports’ ratings, and it may tie into another aspect discussed in the upcoming cover story: How big a role the Boston Bruins defensive structure and personnel plays in Rask’s career .928 save percentage, which would set a modern record if it holds up.
We’ll leave it to others to quantify how much of an impact the Bruins style plays (Sportsnet’s Chris Boyle is the industry leader when it comes to breaking down shot quality and its impact, including an in-depth look at Rask compared to Carey Price), the EA Sports ratings appropriately cited a balanced game, with high ranks in athleticism and reflexes. InGoal will break down how the unique way those skills manifest themselves in Rask’s game in the upcoming issue.
3. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens – 92 Rating Overall
Much like the conclusions from Boyle’s above-linked comparison of the shot quality faced by Rask and Price, the EA Sports ratings have Price ranked ahead of Rask (though based on the number, only slightly) despite being behind him in traditional statistics and finishing fourth in Vezina voting. We’re not going to argue the order, especially with so little to separate the two and mounting statistical evidence quantifying the differences in shot quality both face, but it was interesting to see EA Sports note that “Carey has an average rating of (90) in the Reflexes and Athletic ability category.” We’ll have to wait for the full list, but we’d expect Price’s silky smooth movements and the technical game that is the foundation behind them to be among the factors that helped raise his overall rating by two points to 92.
2. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings – 93 Rating Overall
This rating is bound to create the biggest buzz despite Quick winning a second Stanley Cup this summer. Statistically speaking, Quick is behind everyone else on this list and rankings like this one drive the analytics crowd, especially since Kings backups past and present like Jonathan Bernier, Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones have posted better numbers over since that first Stanley Cup (and Conn Smythe) win in 2012. But Quick can put his two Cup rings in his ears if the noise from detractors gets too loud, and credit EA Sports for recognizing the aggressive style that has led to both his regular-season inconsistency and often playoff brilliance: “Quick challenges shooters with (91) Aggressiveness – but uses his amazing Athletic ability with (91) Speed and Agility to get back into position.” We’re not sure how the other numbers look, but as long as Quick’s 91 rating for aggressiveness is the highest in the NHL by a good margin, it’s hard to argue, whatever you think of the overall rating.
1. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers – 93 Rating Overall
The most consistent goaltender in the NHL since arriving from his native Sweden in 2005, Lundqvist further cemented his status atop League’s goaltender rankings with his first run to the Stanley Cup Final last season. And while there were some costly and ill-timed struggles early in that series, the stylish Swede was undoubtedly the Rangers best player throughout their postseason run. According to EA Sports, Lundqvist received “five stars in all 3 goalie attribute categories” so it’s nice to know they didn’t join those who have mischaracterized him as a blocking goalie and presumably recognized his deeper style of play requires more purely reactive elements, not fewer.
It was, however, interesting to read that “it’s nearly impossible to beat him long the ice as Lundqivst carries a (92) rating for Stick Low, and Five Hole,” since the NHL.com breakdown of every goal he surrendered last season included a surprisingly high total between the legs and along the ice. As noted in that analysis, “playing so deep means extending the pads more to make low saves, which is going to open holes” down low.
It does make you wonder a little about the detail in the scouting reports that goes into these EA Sports ratings for its popular NHL franchise, but it’s a pretty little nit to pick when you consider how much else they appeared to get right in the rankings.