Over the past two months I’ve been playing the latest instalment in the EA Sports NHL franchise. However, recently I began to speculate if game’s producers had undervalued James Reimer. Whether I was playing against artificial intelligence or human opponents, I consistently noticed Reimer’s poor SV% regardless of the number of shots opponents had directed on my net. Even in games where I limited oppositional scoring chances to a nearly non-existent number in comparison to the barrage my top-6 was putting out, Reimer still fumbled between the pipes and it was a rarity that he had a commendable SV %. For those of you that are not familiar with the game, Reimer currently has a rating of 82 out of 100. To put this in context, EA Sports has classified Jonathan Quick, Carey Price, and Henrik Lundqvist as the game’s three elite goaltenders by bestowing them a rating of 91. You have no arguments from me here that these guys aren’t befitting of elite status but nevertheless, this is quite the disparity between the skill levels of Lundqvist and Reimer. While it’s not reasonable to compare Reimer to a veteran with a .920 regular season SV% and a Vezina trophy, it is arguable that Reimer is not deserving of his lowly status in NHL 14.
After reviewing the current rankings of the goalies in the game in comparison to their number of regular season games played, regular season wins, and regular season SV%, it was clear to me that Reimer was in fact getting robbed on a pretty superficial level. The usual goalies, that are perceived to be better than Reimer, such as Crawford and Luongo, both ranked in higher in the virtual reality environment at 86. More interesting though was when looking at the statistics of the goalies that I did not expect to see ranked ahead of Reimer in the game.
Most notably, Anaheim’s Victor Fasth, five years Reimer’s senior, is ranked at 85 despite only having played in 28 regular season games, winning 17 of them and recording a .916 SV%.
Another notable player on this list was Devan Dubnyk from the Edmonton Oilers. He was still rated two points higher than Reimer at 84 with 148 regular season games played, 52 wins, and a .911 SV%. In comparison, Reimer has played 37 fewer games than Dubnyk but has still secured more wins at 57 and a higher SV% of .917. Moreover, between the two of them, Reimer is the only one with NHL playoff experience. Despite a heartbreaking loss in game seven last season against Boston, Reimer still posted a very respectable .923 SV%.
Also ranked higher than Reimer is Ondrej Pavelec from the Winnipeg Jets. Over 244 regular season games played, Pavelec has only won 95 and posted a woeful .906 SV%. Even if we take playoff statistics into account, which was beyond my initial criteria, Pavelec can still not be salvaged because he has none. The only thing that Pavelec has on his side is that he has played 133 more games than Reimer and racked up 38 more wins. However, even if you took this statistics at face value and blindly awarded Pavelec the extra point in the game, his game-to-win percentage is 38% compared to Reimer’s 51%.
Below Reimer by only a point are Ben Bishop and Anders Lindback with 81, closely followed by Jason Labarbera with 80. My issue with these three is that even if we assume that EA Sports is heavily weighting the rating of goalies based games played and wins, these guys should not be this close to Reimer, meaning Reimer should be rated higher. Bishop has only played 56 regular reason games, won 27 of them, and posted a .915 SV%. He is definitely going to be a good goalie in the NHL. Moreover, he is much better than Lindback and Labarbera who have a combined 247 games played, 87 wins, and a .907 SV%. Also clocking in with an 80 rating in NHL 14 is the pugnacious Ray Emery. Besides valiantly pummeling unwilling combatants most recently, he has played 232 regular season games and won 127 of them with a .908 SV%. Thus, while he has fairly respectable stats overall and outranks Reimer in terms of wins and games played this did not improve his overall rating in the game. In the end, while there is not much difference in NHL 14 between the likes of Emery, Dubnyk, Pavelec, and Reimer but a significant gulf between them and the elite level goaltenders.
Throughout the actual NHL season as transactions occur, gamers can update team rosters to reflect real life changes in the league. In turn, it would also be great if EA Sports also adopted a similar system for players so that if they improved substantially throughout the course of the season, this could also be reflected in the game. In the meantime, I can still breathe a sigh of relief that my virtual reality Toronto Maple Leafs are still healthy down the middle, if only my video game James Reimer could possess the form we are so accustomed to seeing in reality.