"NHL 12" is all about the agitators. It's about taking advantage of the game's new physics engine to push and punish opponents, knocking them out of position by using the big bruisers to shove and smack puck handlers out from in front of the net.
That's why when Hart Trophy winner and agitator of all agitators Corey Perry stopped by the EA Sports studios in Vancouver, British Columbia, last week, producers were excited to show him just how intimidating the virtual Duck could be in the game.
"Before, everyone in the game was the same size and strength, but now if you're a bigger guy, you can push the little guys around," Perry told me after scoring a goal as himself in "NHL 12" for the first time. "And for my character, it's more realistic because now I have a longer reach, so I can protect the puck a little more. It just looks so real. It's me out there. What you see from me on the ice is what you see in the video game.
"This game is amazing. They have everything. They even have goalie fights. I think that's going to be really entertaining. Kids are going to love it."
Jon Robinson: Are you a big video game player?
Corey Perry: I remember "Blades of Steel" right on up to all the "NHL" games through the years. Playing "NHL" was the first thing I did when I got up in the morning and the first thing I did whenever I got home from school. These days, I don't have as much time to play, but when I get a little free time, I still like to play "NHL."
Jon Robinson: "NHL 12" has a variety of legends in the game. Who are you most looking forward to playing as or against?
Corey Perry: Obviously you want to play against Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe. They also have Mario Lemieux and Ray Bourque in the game. These are big-time legends, and you remember how good they were watching them on TV, so it's definitely going to be fun playing against them and maybe even playing with them in the game.
Jon Robinson: Did you try to model your game in real life after any of these legends?
Corey Perry: My favorites were Gretzky and Lemieux growing up. They were two of the biggest names when I was a kid, and you just try and take things from their games and add them to yours. You want to be your own player, but you're always stealing different things from different guys.
Jon Robinson: So for gamers who might not be hockey fans, can you describe your style in real life? What should gamers expect when they play as your character in "NHL 12"?
Corey Perry: I'm a feisty, bigger-sized guy who plays in front of the net all the time and tries to create havoc. The intensity is always on high, so you might get into a little tussle with me here or there. [laughs]
Jon Robinson: How would your opponents describe your playing style?
Corey Perry: Probably an agitator. I'm somebody you don't want to play against, but you'd want me on your team. That's just how I am as a player, and if I'm not playing that way, I'm not going to be effective.
Jon Robinson: Last season you went on an unbelievable scoring streak where it seemed like everything you shot went in the net. It was almost like you were a human video game out there the way you made it look so easy.
Corey Perry: It was unbelievable. The last 20 games or so were pretty special. We were fighting for a playoff spot and didn't know if we were going to even make it to the playoffs, and then in Game 80 and 81, we were fighting for playoff position. It takes every game on the schedule to make the playoffs, and we found that out the hard way last year.
Jon Robinson: When you're in a scoring zone like that, what does the game look like through your eyes? Does it feel like slow-motion?
Corey Perry: Everything I shot just seemed to trickle its way in. I was having fun and enjoying what I was doing. The guys on the team were behind me, and it's always fun when the guys are having as much fun as you are and you're able to go out on the ice and do what you love. It's not like the game slows down, but when you're having that much fun, it just makes everything more enjoyable.
Jon Robinson: Last year you won the Hart Trophy. What are your goals heading into the new season?
Corey Perry: Obviously, you set goals for yourself, but the main thing is to just go in and improve on what we did last year. You look back on what you did the year before, and you try and improve and move forward. You can't really think last year was something special. It was, but you have to go out and make a name for yourself every year. When that puck drops for the first game, it's a different season.
Jon Robinson: I just got my copy of "NHL 12." Why should I play as the Ducks?
Corey Perry: We have depth, we have scoring and we have a good goalie. You can win with this lineup. You look at our line, and we're a big, physical group. We like to have a lot of fun, and we score a lot of goals. There are a couple of guys on that line whose hands and moves are something to watch. Besides, we like to mix it up in the corners a little bit. [laughs]