Reacting to the Islanders’ NHL 22 Ratings

BRIDGEPORT, CT - OCTOBER 09: New York Islanders Center Mathew Barzal (13) in action during the National Hockey League Preseason game between the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders on October 9, 2021 at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT. (Photo by Joshua Sarner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

With the new EA Sports NHL title releasing on Thursday, the New York Islanders’ in-game roster is again underrated. While the game is simulation-based, and weird anomalies can happen, the game gives us a good indication of the Islanders’ season expectations. The roster only has two players with the new specialty X-factor in-game ability. Since the Islanders have made two straight Conference Finals, the team rated considerably low in this year’s game. Going through the rosters line-by-line, let’s analyze the New York Islanders’ NHL 22 ratings.

NHL 22 X-factor Traits

New to the EA Sports NHL series is the X-factor ability trait. Each player has a rating based on a 100-point scale. The closer a player is to 100, the better they are. To further separate superstar players from great players, EA created X-factor traits that embellish the performance of a specific skill. For example, if Alexander Ovechkin scores a goal, his superstar ability activates, and he can play with increased durability and speed, plus his slap shot is almost unstoppable.

Across their NHL roster, the Islanders have two players with unique x-factor ability. Matt Barzal and Seymon Varlamov have the trait fully leveled up. Doing well in franchise and season mode with those players will help them fully maximize the X-factor trait.

.The x-factor ability has been a staple of EA Sports Madden Football franchise since Madden Football 20. While Madden is immensely popular with or without the unique ability, the NHL series has fallen off over four or five years. With the release days away, the X-factor trait can redesign both online and offline modes within the game.

Islanders’ NHL 22 Ratings

Line 1:

LW-Anders Lee 85 overall C-Matt Barzal 89 overall (X-factor) RW-Kyle Palmieri 83 overall

The top line for the Islanders is well-rated but possibly inaccurate. When I predicted the Islanders’ lines, I believed the best scenario would involve a shooter on the right wing. Barzal is a highly skilled player but is at his best when setting up goals rather than scoring them. Last year he was often double and triple-teamed, limiting his play.

Lee’s role is to position himself in front of the net and fight for control. Palmieri is more of a power forward, and while his skill is deserving of being on the top line, the Islanders need more offensive production from its top pairing. Palmieri worked well alongside Pageau and Beauvillier on the third line last season. He doesn’t shoot enough to make this line productive offensively.

Line 2:

LW- Anthony Beauvillier 83 overall C-Brock Nelson 84 overall RW- Josh Bailey 84 overall

The Islanders have a solid second line that is primarily underappreciated as well. Nelson and Bailey make impacts that cannot be tallied on a scoresheet. Both players are good game managers that aren’t afraid to take risks. Beauvillier adds some speed to this line. He is good at getting the puck to the net, and Nelson and Bailey have enough skill to send a puck home. Lee’s injury last season and the trade deadline acquisition of Palmieri messed with the chemistry of the line. This pairing will be better if they can spend the whole season together.

Line 3:

LW-Zach Parise 80 overall C-J.G. Pageau 82 overall RW-Oliver Wahlstrom 81 overall

The Islanders’ third line pairing is an example of how the NHL video games don’t like defensive forwards. Pageau is an excellent grind-line center in real life that is rendered almost useless in the game. He has a lumbering contract for a player in the bottom six and will likely be put on the trading block by the game’s AI. He should at least be an 84, with an extra defensive ability. Since the X-factor is still in its infancy for NHL games, players like Pageau are criminally underrated.

Line 4:

LW-Matt Martin 77 overall C-Casey Cizikas 80 overall RW-Cal Clutterbuck 78 overall

The Islanders have the best fourth line in the NHL. Coach Barry Trotz usually sets the game’s tone by letting this line take the game’s opening faceoff. This line is rated correctly, but they need to be matched up against other bottom-six pairings. Clutterbuck and Martin are amazing at hitting in the game, even though they have calmed down with the heavy hits in real life. Cizikas is a great faceoff center but lacks any offensive skill to be a scoring threat in the game. The Islanders are an easy team to kill a penalty with. Even though this line isn’t highly rated, they are at least useful in the game.

Defense:

Pair 1: Adam Pelech 86 overall – Ryan Pulock 86 overall

Pair 2: Andy Greene 78 overall – Noah Dobson 82 overall

Pair 3: Zdeno Chara 82 overall – Scott Mayfield 81 overall

In doing a rating analysis of the Dallas Stars, it’s appalling that Ryan Suter has an X-factor trait over Pulock and Pelech. The Islanders’ top defensive pairing is the best in the league. Both players need each other to be elite, but they are innovative and technically sound.

The rest of the matchups are still slightly up in the air. During the preseason, Chara played on the second defensive pairing with Dobson. Trotz said that the pairing reminded him of Chara’s role when he was still on the Boston Bruins. Chara’s rating is positively affected by his hard slapshot. Without it, he’d likely be rated a 78 along with Greene. He is still valuable in the game because his size makes him hard to get around. As one of the better defensive teams in the league, EA missed the mark when rating this defense.

Goalies:

Semyon Varlamov 87 (X-factors) – Ilya Sorokin 83 overall

Varlamov has returned to the elite status of his Colorado Avalanche days. He led the league in shutouts and was in the top five in both goals-against average and save percentage last season. His rating of 87 is a little low, but the X-factor makes up for the injustice. Age may have also played a role in his overall, as he will be 33 years old this season.

Sorokin was ripped off with the rating of 83. NHL 21 had updates throughout the season, and Sorokin was an 85 overall at his highest. Sorokin let up five goals to the New York Rangers in his NHL debut. He filled in for an injured Varlamov, who took a puck to the neck during practice. Still, Sorokin placed 7th in goals against and 11th in save percentage. He has neither a high overall nor a high potential. Another way that EA has let Islanders’ fans down.

The Verdict:

Going over the Islanders’ ratings in EA’s NHL 22 is a harsh reminder that hockey video games don’t value defense. The Islanders have gone to the Conference Finals for two straight years, but the role players that make the team elite are severely underrated. There is no way to have a defense focus on the offensive lines, but NHL 22 also lowballed the Islanders’ defense. The developers tried to give Matt Barzal and Semyon Varlamov high overalls, but the rest of the team is beatable compared to other teams.

With the Islanders becoming a convincing dark horse for the Stanley Cup, their defensive style of play isn’t reflected by NHL video games. NHL 22 has made minor improvements to please its audience. The gameplay is focused on fast-paced action that promotes high-scoring games. The Islanders’ identity has become the underdog, and that doesn’t stop in hockey video games.

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