"We've found that people have a lot of fun checking opponents after the whistle blows," Littman says, laughing. "During EA Sports Hockey League games, you have 12 human players, and every single person, even the goalies, are out there after the whistle trying to hit each other. Now, to make things more authentic, we've added a little more to the after-whistle action.
"Not only can you hit guys after the whistle, but now there are going to be penalties after the whistle if you go a bit too crazy like slashing a guy from behind into the boards. There are scrums after almost every play in the playoffs, so we wanted to add that in the game, and there is an effect for it. With intimidation tactics, you might be hitting someone after a whistle, but if you come too close to my goalie I can come check you or face-wash you and get you out of there or even fight you after the whistle. We've never had that before, and it's just an extension of what makes hockey so great.
I don't want people to worry that our game this year is going to be all about fighting and being physical. In fact, I think it has the opposite effect. I think adding all of these features actually calms the game down because that's what fighting does.
”-- "NHL 10" producer David Littman
"Another thing is that if you shoot the puck at my goalie after a whistle, my tough guy will come knock you on your ass. Again, this is all stuff that happens in hockey, especially if you're on home ice. You cannot let the other team shoot the puck at your goalie after the whistle or come face-wash Sidney Crosby and intimidate him. You just can't let that happen. But you can also try to draw penalties. You can shoot the puck at the opposing goalie just to get the other team pissed off, and if one of their tough guys comes over and punches me after the whistle, he might get the penalty. So there is all of this gameplay going on and head games between opponents where I might give you a quick slash that doesn't get called, but when you turn around and start a fight, you might get called for an instigation penalty.
"Another cool thing we added this year is line matching at the opening faceoff. So for the first time, you can put out your fourth line to start a game to go against the first line of the away team in order to try and intimidate them right away. We're even giving a little bit of an advantage to the home team by enabling them to pick a line after the away team picks theirs.
"If you want some bangers and checkers out there against the superstars, you might get an advantage, but at the same time, you're talking about a first line against a fourth line, so there is a bit of a risk there when you have a fast player like Ovechkin playing against three grinders. There is a risk there, but we want you to have that ability as a coach to decide who is out there on the ice at all times.
"At the same time, I don't want people to worry that our game this year is going to be all about fighting and being physical. In fact, I think it has the opposite effect. I think adding all of these features actually calms the game down because that's what fighting does. The other team is actually going to fight less, they are going to check less if you have the tough guys to back it up. In a sense, you can play either way. There's not going to be all of this fighting and tough stuff all the time because in a way, all of this fighting and tough stuff is in the game to prevent the other team from doing it. It's about finding that balance, and in the end, it's about making the most authentic, most realistic hockey game ever made."