With other sports leagues using video games to keep fans entertained during these tough times, the NHL has decided to get in on the action.
Thursday, the league announced the first-ever NHL Player Gaming Challenge. Starting on April 30, players from all 31 clubs will represent their teams by competing against one another in EA SPORTS' NHL 20. It'll be defenseman Charlie McAvoy and winger Jake DeBrusk teaming up for the Boston Bruins for the four-week event.
“Over the past several weeks, the NHL, its Clubs and player community have been very active with gaming initiatives in an effort to connect with fans while social distancing — such as charity tournaments, simulated games and nightly streams,” NHL vice president of business development and innovation Chris Golier said. “The NHL Player Gaming Challenge presented by Honda will take gaming to another level. We know how competitive our players are, and coupled with the interaction between players, these series of competitions will be extremely fun to watch.”
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The NHL Player Gaming Challenge will consist of weekly matchups, which will be announced on Thursdays and Saturdays. NBC Sports will air the first series of games April 30, including Calgary vs. Ottawa and Columbus vs. Winnipeg, starting at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
The competition will be for a great cause, as the NHL and Electronic Arts will donate a combined $100,000 in support of the CDC Foundation’s COVID-19 relief efforts.
Other notable players participating are brothers Brady Tkachuk (Ottawa Senators) and Matthew Tkachuk (Calgary Flames). Evander Kane will represent the San Jose Sharks, Evgeny Kuznetsov will play for the Washington Capitals, and Tyler Johnson will compete for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The NHL season has been put on hold due to the coronavirus crisis, meaning we may have to wait a while to watch the Boston Bruins again.
As a way to make up for the loss of Bruins action, we'll be using the EA Sports NHL 20 video game to simulate each game on Boston's schedule until they finally return to action.
The Boston Bruins were supposed to take on the San Jose Sharks on Saturday, March 21, here's how our simulation of that game went.
The B's dominated the Kings from top to bottom in a 4-1 win at the Shark Tank.
Here are the game stats:
Three Stars of the Game + Game Stats
Tuukka Rask, Brandon Carlo and Torey Krug were the three stars of the game for the Bruins in a 4-1 victory over the Sharks. Although the Sharks led 27-21 in shots, Aaron Dell failed to make quality saves when needed for San Jose.
Bruins Individual Stats
Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Anders Bjork and Chris Wagner potted goals in this simulation while Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo added two assists each. Nick Ritchie, Charlie Coyle, Karson Kuhlman and Sean Kuraly also had assists. Charlie McAvoy led in ice time with 31:59 and was key in Boston's victory.
Sharks Individual Stats
The Sharks lone goal was scored by Stefan Noesen and assisted by Tim Heed and Jacob Middleton. Dell had an .850 save percentage and wasn't great in goal for the struggling Sharks.
FINAL SCORE: Bruins 4, Sharks 1
Bruins Record (Includes simulated games): 46-15-13 (105 points)
*NOTE: We did not include Boston's games against the Buffalo Sabres or Toronto Maple Leafs in the simulation, therefore the simulated record isn't 100 percent accurate*
Next Simulation: vs. Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday
Be sure to keep an eye out for our Bruins vs. Red Wings simulation which is set to drop on Tuesday.
Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy has held down the fort this season with Zdeno Chara.
The young blueliner struggled a bit in the first half of the season, but after scoring his first goal of the year found his stride at the right time for Boston.
McAvoy, drafted 14th overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, ranks among some of the league's best in wins above replacement (WAR) for his draft class.
As you can see in the chart below, McAvoy ranks third in WAR and has continued to improve in that category since joining the league in 2016. The only players who rank higher are Auston Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Matthew Tkachuk (Calgary Flames). McAvoy is the only defenseman in the top five in this category.
This chart proves the Bruins are much better with McAvoy in the lineup, but just about everybody knows that.
McAvoy has been and will continue to be one of the most valuable defensemen in the Bruins organization.
If the B's make it back to the Stanley Cup Final, McAvoy certainly will be a big reason why.