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  1. HB's completed for the following: Arizona Cardinals Kansas City Chiefs Buffalo Bills Chicago Bears Cincinnati Bengals Cleveland Browns Carolina Panthers Dallas Cowboys
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  2. I recorded a tutorial video last night that shows how I record my gameplay in RetroArch and then edit the file in order to create animated GIFs:
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  3. Los Angeles Kings It’s safe to say that for many SNES players, the Los Angeles Kings are easily among the sentimental favorite teams to use for a variety of reasons. Whether that reason is nostalgia, high end skill, destroying opponents with Marty McSorley, mimicking Fenty’s antics, etc., rarely are there ever any instances of the Kings not being used by at least a semi notable coach in any SNES classic league. Thankfully, the Kings of the early 90s possessed an abundance of top end talent at nearly every position that make this team an absolute joy to use and win with in NHL 94. Forwards (Minus) The Great One? Robitaille-Carson-Sandstrom Any time I ever describe SNES NHL 94 to someone in real life who has never played, the usual reaction is, “oh Gretzky must have been absolutely dominant in that game!” Unfortunately enough, this exclamation, while understandable, is far from the truth. Though Wayne Gretzky by no means handicaps the Kings, the main argument for not deploying #99 in the starting lineup is due to his mere 172 lb. weight and weak shot ratings that don’t benefit the Kings offense at all. I find it to be a real shame that the greatest NHL player and goal scorer of all time got the shaft when it came to arguably the most important ratings, but I suppose that’s a rant in itself for another day. One thing that is true though about Wayne Gretzky is that he’s a great option off the bench to be used at either Wing in the event of an injury or if a coach simply wants to change the look and feel of the Kings offense. It goes without saying that there’s still plenty of plus skating, deking ability, strong positional play, and reliability to be had from #99 in the lineup and so you certainly can’t fault any coach who still wishes to use him depending on the situation. Luc Robitaille is one of only a handful of players in NHL 94 to possess 100 shot accuracy and this fact alone makes for a strong argument to put him at Center where he can unleash deadly accurate one timers and single-handedly take over a game. In fact, I can’t even say that I don’t recommend this as the results don’t lie, both in mine and other coaches past experiences. It’s also very helpful that #20 possesses good skating abilities which absolutely make him a deking threat in most situations. Simply put, whether Luc Robitaille is used at Wing or Center, he is going to make an impact on the scoresheet and is an integral part of the Kings offense. For Jimmy Carson, SNES NHL 94, amazingly, represents possibly the only time he would ever be considered as better than Wayne Gretzky in some capacity. As longtime hockey fans will remember in the infamous trade that originally sent Gretzky to the Kings in 1988, Carson was the centerpiece of the package that went back to the Edmonton Oilers. However, even despite being a multi-time 50 goal scorer and a very skilled player in his own right, it was quickly determined that he would never match up to the accomplishments of Gretzky and thus Carson was written off and ironically later returned to the Kings almost as an afterthought in the team’s Stanley Cup run in 1993. However, Carson is far from an afterthought on the SNES as he weighs in at a dense 212 lbs., is a pretty decent skater for a larger player, and possesses shot ratings practically equal to those of players such as Craig Simpson, Teemu Selanne, etc… It goes without saying that Carson is arguably the Kings best options at Center due to his plus shooting and skating, and his size and ability to both withstand and effectively lay down body checks. For the Kings, the offensive riches do not end at Robitaille and Carson as there is also Tomas Sandstrom in the mix. Sandstrom plays very similarly to Carson due to weighing in at 212 lbs. and possessing good skating abilities. Like Carson, Sandstrom is also blessed with excellent shot ratings that make him one of the strongest one timing threats in the game. I sometimes believe that the true luxury in having players like Carson and Sandstrom comes from the ability to play strong two way hockey as these two players have more than enough size and speed to impose their will on most of the other players in the game and then use their great offensive abilities to light the lamp in most situations. Perhaps an even greater luxury is that these two players, along with Robitaille, can be used almost interchangeably to give opponents many different looks and make shutting down the Kings offense a real chore. On the bench, the Kings have the likes of Tony Granato and steady Hall of Famer Jari Kurri. Granato, in particular, possesses an elusive 100 speed rating but at times is known to fumble passes which can become problematic. However, if Granato’s pass receiving is steady in a given game, his speed can absolutely make him a breakaway threat and add another layer to an already strong Kings offense. While Kurri does not possess the same top end talents as the aforementioned recommended starters, he is another great bench option who can contribute positively at both ends of the ice and will not handcuff the team much, if at all, when he’s used. Defense Blake-McSorley In consideration of Marty McSorley, I remember thinking when I was younger that he was too slow to be effective and was the weakest link in the Los Angeles Kings starting lineup. This, in turn, caused me to give a lot of starts to Alexei Zhitnik in my early days of playing online. Initially, Zhitnik appears to be the better option as he has the edge over McSorley in puck control and skating which can make a big difference in games where puck control and movement are of the utmost importance. However, where the difference between the two players becomes glaringly obvious is in weight and laying the lumber on the opposition. In short, McSorley’s weight of 236 lbs. versus 180 lbs. for Zhitnik, makes a massive difference in the way that both players will make contributions to the Kings lineup. Much like in real life, Marty’s ability to destroy and dominate opposing players and change the flow of a game with a huge hit cannot be understated and gives the Kings a true physical edge over most teams when combined with the overall size of the team’s top Forwards. While I personally give McSorley the nod over Zhitnik, I don’t think a coach can be faulted for choosing increased mobility depending on play styles and preferences. While it’s true that Zhitnik is more susceptible to a big hit and won’t be unleashing as many of his own, players who prefer the ability to deke and rush with a Defenseman cannot be criticized for starting him over McSorley. For the 2nd Defenseman, the choice is much easier. Rob Blake weighs in at 228 lbs. and possesses plenty of puck control and skating ability to make him among the most solid and steady Defensemen in the game. Whether it’s rushing the puck up the ice, strong and sound positional play, or imposing his own will over opposing players, Blake is absolutely the best Kings Defenseman and one that is hard to justify taking out of the lineup. For bench Defensemen, the Kings have other options in Darryl Sydor and Charlie Huddy, both of whom were longtime NHL Defensemen and enjoyed solid careers. While it will generally be rare to see either player used in injury situations, both will occasionally need to enter the game in Penalty Kill situations. Though neither player will light the world on fire with high end skill, crazy offensive rushes, or game changing contributions, both Defensemen can be relied upon to play a steady game until one of the Kings top defenders is ready to return from the penalty box. Summary Size, speed, strength, aggression, physicality, puck movement, great shooting ability… the Los Angeles Kings literally have it all in SNES NHL 94. Perhaps the only issue with the team is knowing which players to use in which positions. However, I would say this is a great problem to have as the ability to make changes on the fly and customize the team’s lineup based on preferences and/or gut feelings makes the Kings one of best teams in the game and one that is practically always a threat to win in the hands of a skilled coach.
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  4. Vancouver Canucks Though the Vancouver Canucks would not make their run to the Stanley Cup Finals until the next calendar year, the 1993 release of NHL 94, and especially on the SNES, sees the team display some of the same characteristics and qualities that the real life NHL team would later come to embody. As such, while this 16 bit version of the Canucks will never be mistaken for one of the game’s elite teams, there are certainly plenty of reasons why this team is not only above average, but can absolutely perform well against the league’s toughest competition and even despite one notable weakness. Forwards Courtnall-Linden-Bure If you were asked to name the one defining trait of Geoff Courtnall’s game, I think the answer is relatively straight-forward: pure speed. It goes without saying that Courtnall’s presence on the ice will absolutely result in a healthy amount of breakaway chances for the Canucks. While he’s not necessarily a huge one timing threat due to relatively average shot ratings, Courtnall’s great speed/agility and 196 lb. weight simply make him an effective player on both sides of the ice and an essential part of the Canucks’ starting lineup even despite only being perhaps the team’s 3rd best Forward. Regardless of where he’s used, it’s hard to overstate just how much of a difference Trevor Linden makes to the Vancouver Canucks starting lineup. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and state that Linden is arguably the best bench player in the entire game. In replacing Cliff Ronning, Linden’s 212 lb. weight adds much needed size and grit to a pretty light group of Forwards. In short, Linden’s size, combined with relatively good speed and agility ratings, makes him a very effective defensive forward and one that also can be used on the backcheck in rush situations. Even better, Linden’s good shot ratings make him a credible one timer threat and again, a strong upgrade over Ronning but also in the offensive zone. It’s always fun to remember Linden’s outstanding performance in the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals where he more than proved why he was deserving of the moniker “Captain Canuck”. It’s even more fun to recapture that same magic in using him as part of the Canucks lineup and letting him go off for some big games. In Pavel Bure, the Canucks possess a superstar Forward with excellent speed and agility and also good shot ratings. Whether it’s trying for breakaways, going 1 on 1 with defenders, or setting up for one timers, Bure simply adds that much more to the Canucks offense than what is already present with Courtnall and Linden. The only knock on Pavel Bure is that his 180 lb. weight will sometimes make him a target for the game’s larger forwards and defensemen. So while Bure can be used at Center, with sometimes very effective results, it’s probably best to keep him on the Wing where he can best use his speed to get by opposing defenders. Doing so also allows Trevor Linden to play a more physical game at Center and overall seems to help the Canucks offense flow a bit better in general. As mentioned previously, Cliff Ronning’s skills don’t quite match up to what is brought to the table by the Canucks three best Forwards. However, calling Ronning an ineffective bench option would be selling him short as he does possess great speed and agility ratings which make him an effective option for deking and rushing the puck into the offensive zone. The only thing holding Ronning back from being a more effective player and a starter in the Canucks lineup is being a target to the opposition at 180 lbs. and having mediocre shot ratings. Greg Adams represents the best of the Canucks remaining bench forwards as he weighs in at 196 lbs. and possesses good shot accuracy which can keep the Canucks dangerous in one timing situations. However, Adams can handicap the team in some instances due to mediocre speed and stick handling and so he is likely best reserved for spot duty in injury or maybe blowout situations. Defense Lidster-Lumme From here, things go somewhat downhill as we’re now faced with the Canucks biggest weakness in the form of mediocre Defensemen. It’s not that Doug Lidster and Jyrki Lumme are terrible by any means, but in comparison to the game’s best defensive pairs, the two Canucks starting Defensemen absolutely leave something to be desired. At 212 lbs., Lidster represents the more physical of the Canucks starting defenders, but lacks the skills necessary to be a real game changer due to very mediocre speed and agility ratings. Lumme, on the other hand, is the more mobile of the two Canucks starting Defensemen with a good agility rating, but lacks a higher speed rating that would make him a more coveted defender. Also, Lumme’s 196 lb. weight decreases his physical effectiveness against the game’s larger players and teams. The Canucks bench sees several similarly mediocre defensive options with the best of these coming in the form of Jiri Slegr and Gerald Diduck. Both players weigh in at 220 lbs. and can thereby bring some more physicality to the lineup. However, both players have similar average speed and agility ratings and thus do not improve the Canucks overall lack of speed on Defense. Worse yet, Slegr and Diduck’s average stick handling ratings could pose some problems for the Canucks transition and overall offensive game. In short, no matter if a coach decides to stick with the default Canucks Defensemen or make some substitutions, it’s probably best to expect at least something of an uphill battle in the defensive zone and know that it’s probably best to take a more conservative approach with usage of the team’s defenders. Summary A great group of Forwards with an average, at best, group of Defensemen puts the Vancouver Canucks at something of a middle tier in terms of best teams in SNES NHL 94. However, the team’s abundance of speed and skill on offense can certainly give opponents lots of trouble and be more than a match for even the most elite teams. While the Canucks defense is absolutely the team’s biggest question mark, overcoming, or at least working around this weakness can see coaches rack up a lot of victories in a manner similar to that of the team’s legendary real life 1994 counterpart.
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  5. Philadelphia Flyers Although loaded with some weapons and firepower on their front-end, a mediocre defensive corps holds the Philadelphia Flyers back from being among the elite teams in NHL 94. However, if a user can find ways to counteract Philadelphia’s lack of strong defensive coverage on the blue-line, the Flyers are a team that can do some moderate to serious damage in the hands of a skilled player. Forwards "The 'Real' Crazy Eights (8-88-[1+7=8])" Recchi-Lindros-Brind’Amour Although not previously recommend for GENS play, Rod Brind’Amour brings solid defense to the table with his above average defensive awareness and 212 lb. weight. In short, Brind’Amour’s size and checking (55) allows him to throw down effectively enough on the majority of opposing skaters while above average awareness (65) means that he will be in position to make these checks and hits more often than not. This leads to a greater number of opportunities for odd-man rushes, breakaways, and goals. It also doesn’t hurt that Brind’Amour possesses an above average shot (65/65) that will come into play offensively when Mark Recchi or Eric Lindros may not be open for a one timer. There’s not much to say about Recchi and Lindros that hasn’t already been said before. Both are great shooters (Recchi: 65/85, Lindros: 65/100) who can score on one timers with relative ease as well as successfully bury the occasional slapshot. Recchi in particular brings a dynamic skating presence to this line with 85 Agility and 65 Speed that becomes crucial to pushing the pace of the offense in contrast to the slower nature of Lindros and Brind’Amour. The beauty of Recchi is that he is also very suitable at the center position due to his 85 offensive awareness and knack for setting up in the right positions in the offensive zone. This comes in handy if Lindros happens to get injured at the hands of one of the few heavyweights that can take him down at will. At 236 lbs., Lindros will not go down easily. This makes him a strong asset on the SNES as he will be able to withstand almost any punishment to dish off passes to a streaking Recchi or open Brind’Amour as well as set up practically anywhere in the offensive zone to bury one timer opportunities. The only change to this line would possibly be putting Brind’Amour on the Left Wing to keep him on the ice during Penalty Kill situations. However, Recchi’s offensive talents are definitely appealing to coaches who still look for scoring chances while on the Penalty Kill. Overall, user preference applies in all situations as Recchi and Brind’Amour seem to run hot and cold on the SNES no matter which wing each player is placed on whether in even strength, Penalty Kill, or Power Play situations. "Broad Street Speedies" Recchi-Lindros-Dineen Kevin Dineen is the fastest skater on the Flyers roster (85 speed). When pure speed is needed on the offensive attack, Dineen is the best bench option for slashing through the opposing defense and changing the look of the Flyers offense to more of a Quick Strike approach. Although mediocre shot ratings (45/55) can affect Dineen’s ability to finish on one timers, his speed will allow him to put away dekes just fine in most situations. Though lighter (196 lbs.) and less skilled at checking (45) than Rod Brind’Amour, Dineen’s speed can be a worthy trade-off against lighter weighted opponents. Brind’Amour-Recchi-Dineen Here we have the fastest line that Philadelphia can ice without producing an extreme disadvantage in terms of weight. Theoretically, moving Brind’Amour to his natural wing side should allow him to be more effective in putting away short side dekes. With Recchi at center, the loss is the iron-fisted defense and check absorption previously brought forth by Lindros. The gain is the ability for Recchi to utilize much more space, go 1 on 1 with defenders, and put his deking skills to great use. Clearly, Recchi is more effective than Lindros in this regard. Add this gain to Recchi’s already impressive shot/offensive awareness ratings and you have a forward that is easily among the most dynamic in the game and arguably the best player on the Flyers roster. While possessing great agility and good speed, Pelle Eklund does not have a true signature trait that coaches can rely on. Though not weak in any area, Eklund doesn’t possess the shot (55/55) or defensive ratings (55 defensive awareness/55 checking) to really be very effective on either side of the ice. Worse yet, Eklund is lighter at 180 lbs. which limits his checking effectiveness but also makes him a liability as he could get knocked down and thrown around by some of the heavier players/teams in the league. Hence, he likely won’t see much action on the SNES except in cases of momentum shifting substitutions or injury replacements. Eklund is certainly not an awful player, but most coaches will probably fare better with Brind’Amour or Dineen first and foremost. Defense Yushkevich-Hawgood Here is where things go south for Philadelphia in a hurry. Neither Dimitri Yushkevich nor Garry Galley possess the abilities of even a decent #2 defenseman on almost any given team. At 196 lbs. and with mediocre checking ratings (Galley: 55, Yushkevich: 45), neither defender brings an outstanding physical edge. Even worse, both defenders lack significant speed to consistently rush the puck out of the defensive zone with little to no fear of turnovers (Galley: 45 Agi/45 Spd, Yushkevich: 65 Agi/55 Spd). This can lead to rushed passes and/or turnovers if the opposing coach is utilizing a strong forecheck. The only plus is that both defenders have above average defensive awareness (Both 65) which may possibly save a goal or two from time to time, but certainly is not something that a coach can count on in contrast to other teams in the league due to low weight and low checking ratings. In this instance, Greg Hawgood gets the nod over Galley to higher agility and speed ratings. Though Hawgood and Galley both posses a semi-similar skill set, Hawgood is consistently a faster skater in each game (65 Agi and 55 Spd). Thus, Hawgood is usually a better choice on D than Galley due to the ability to rush puck out of the zone and join the offensive attack somewhat more effectively. Although Hawgood’s defensive awareness (55) is lower than Galley’s, a coach will be facing an uphill battle anyways in terms of defense even with Galley in the lineup…the end result will still be that the user will have to use a lot of D control and go into each game knowing that the AI controlled defensemen will likely not be playing up to the coach’s standards. Thus, why not squeeze a little more offense out of the lineup if defense is going to be a problem anyways? Summary With such a lack of strong defensive ability on the blue-line, Philadelphia will need all the offense it can get, but must not overly force it; especially from its defensemen. A somewhat higher degree of patience must be exercised with the Flyers. Therefore, solid decision-making, passes, set-ups, and well executed shots will be the name of the game when using the Flyers. Overall, coaches will be best off utilizing the talents of the forwards to get things done offensively and should refrain from directly carrying the puck into the offensive zone with defenseman at most times. Rod Brind’Amour brings something of a greater defensive and physical edge than Kevin Dineen or Pelle Eklund. Eric Lindros can also contribute heavily on defense with his weight and 85 checking. This checking presence from both forwards is crucial for the Flyers considering their lack of such physicality on the blue-line. In the end, Lindros’ heavyweight status and offensive talents will be what carries the Flyers most of the time. Couple that with Mark Recchi’s elite shooting, passing, and skating and Brind’Amour’s defensive abilities/decent shooting and the Flyers can have enough to keep the team in contention against even the most elite teams despite a very mediocre defense.
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  6. Washington Capitals Highly under-rated on the SNES, the Washington Capitals are a team that brings forth many crucal skills and strengths at both ends of the ice along with the ability to counter any style of play offered by the opposing team. Thus, while not necessarily the most balanced or "user-friendly" team, Washington is one that can consistently deliver solid performances and provide more than a match for the most elite teams in the game. Forwards Ridley-Khristich-Bondra Consistency, consistency, consistency: the hallmark of Mike Ridley. 212 lbs., 65 Agi/Spd/Off Awr/Shot Acc/Stk. Ridley's skills are not necessarily considered elite in comparison to the top players in the game, but his strengths allow him to do a number of things adequately. With his weight, 55 defensive awareness, and 45 checking, Ridley is Washington's best threat on the forecheck and is no stranger to laying out the opposition with effective body checks mostly due to his weight. Offensively, Ridley's speed, agility, and shot accuracy are strong enough to allow him to lead the rush up ice and score effectively in deking or one-timer situations. For Dmitri Khristich, the name of the game is Sniping. If a user can get Khristich open in prime scoring areas, he is going to cash in on a large majority of his chances with a dangerous 65/100 shot. In fact, a large percentage of Khristich's output will likely have to be generated through long distance dart throwing for two reasons. Firstly, Khristich's skating is average at best (55 Agi/Spd). Thus, he is not very effective in most situations when going 1 on 1 with defenders in deking and dangling situations. The second fact to consider is Khristich's 196 lb. weight. In short, Khristich is not fast/agile enough to consistently slip by defenders ala Selanne or Gartner, nor is he heavy enough to withstand checks and power his way through the defense like Linden, Andreychuk, or Lindros. In a manner similar to fellow Eastern European Khristich, Peter Bondra's speed (100) is the one trait that most clearly defines his game. Along with 65 Agility/Off Awr/Shot Acc., Bondra has the offensive skills to go off and have some big games offensively. He is smart enough to get in a good position to score on one timers and his shot accuracy is effective from a decent majority of scoring areas (provided he doesn't skate out of them too quickly). Make no mistake though, Bondra's speed is what gives Washington a true edge offensively on some occasions. Not only can Bondra move the puck out of the defensive zone quickly and effectively, but if he gains some separation from defenders, he can create a large number of breakaway chances if a user can get the puck to him. This line is all about mitigating incompatibilities. Khristich gets the nod at Center not just because of his shot ratings, but also because placing Ridley or Bondra at Center could cause other problems. Though Ridley is a good option at Center in the vein of Linden or Muller, placing Khristich on the Wing with his slower speed would likely hamper Washington's breakout and rush while also giving him less room to utilize his shooting ability. The effect would be similar with Bondra at Center, though the user would gain a very strong 1 on 1 option down the middle that could evoke similarities to Teemu Selanne. However, with Bondra's slightly lower offensive awareness and shot accuracy, it may be asking him to do a bit too much. Ultimately, if a balance or otherwise desired look that suits a coach can be reached, this trio of forwards can start to pile up the goals in a hurry and rival even the most effective offenses in the game. On the bench, Washington has a few decent forwards to choose from that could lend some help in injury, substitution, or penalty situations. Though not much to write home about defensively, Kelly Miller and his 65 Agi/Spd/Stk is the team's best option for keeping an effective pass receiver on the ice and maintaining the pace of the game on the rush. Michal Pivonka won't make much of a dent on the score sheet or on the bodies of the oppostion, but his 65 stick handling must be considered if further substitutions must be made. Lastly, Pat Elyniuk's 85 shot accuracy can allow the Caps to keep a skilled sniper on the ice if shooting ability is of the utmost importance. Defensemen Iafrate-Hatcher What is there not to love about this pairing? Two massive heavyweights who can throw down the most devastating body checks in the game, play solid defense, and contribute positively on offense. 'Big Al' (228 lbs.) and 'Big Kev' (236 lbs.) possess some major similarities in terms of checking (65) and awareness (65 Off/Def). In short, both players can knock down almost any player in the game at will, withstand punishing hits, and can be trusted to generally be in the proper positions on both sides of the ice. What separates the two are Iafrate's slightly better skill set that undoubtedly makes him one of the best defensemen in the game. For a heavyweight, Al's skating (65 Agi/Spd) allows him to move the puck up ice effectively and start the attack if necessary. From there, Al possesses a booming 100/45 shot that can be a major threat in one-timer or slapshot situations. For Hatcher, his skating is more modest at a mere 55 for Agi/Spd, but like Iafrate, he is a threat offensively with a powerful 85/45 shot that must be respected if he finds an opening on the ice. Ultimately, Iafrate and Hatcher may just be the best overall pairing in the game due to how effectively they can play on both sides of the ice as well as conform to the style of play of almost any coach that uses Washington. There are 2 defensive options on Washington's bench that are ideal should Iafrate or Hatcher leave the game for any reason. First, and certainly the better of the two, is Calle Johansson. Aside from his weight (only 212 lbs.) and shooting ability (65/35), Johansson plays in something of a similar mold to Iafrate and Hatcher. With 65 defensive awareness and 65/55 agility and speed ratings, he can be counted on to play strong, conservative defense and occasionally lead the offensive attack up-ice. Despite a slightly reduced checking rating (55), his weight still allows him to be physical and take the body effectively enough. Though not as much of an offensive threat due to shooting and 55 offensive awareness, Johansson is a competent defenseman who can provide adequate play off the bench and certainly won't cripple the team's overall effectiveness. The second option is the far-lighter 188 lb. Sylvain Cote. Though Cote also possesses a decent 55 checking rating, his weight reduces his effectiveness in playing a physical game. Elsewhere, his awareness (55 Off/Def), skating (55 Agi/Spd), and shooting (55 Acc/45 Pwr) indicate that he is nothing extraordinary in terms of skill, but isn't at a total loss for ability. The only other noteworthy rating is a lower 55 stickhandling rating in comparison to 65 for Iafrate, Hatcher, and Johansson. Thus, a coach must be aware that Cote may fumble some pucks from time to time and reduce Washington's offensive effectiveness on the breakout and rush. Summary A competent offense and very strong defense ranks the Washington Capitals as the front-runner for 'dark horse' team of the game. The trio of Ridley, Khristich, and Bondra brings forth all the necessary skills and talents necessary for a successful offense: speed, shooting, physicality, and finesse. Iafrate and Hatcher can outright dominate the opposition physically, yet still be able to play a smarter, conservative defensive game if necessary. Add their offensive abilities to those already on the table via the forwards, and you have a team that is just as competitive as many of the elite teams in the game and one that can most definitely be used with great success.
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  7. Edmonton Oilers Ah yes, the early 90’s post-dynasty Edmonton Oilers that are many an SNES coach’s favorite “whipping boy”. Personally, the Oilers are my favorite team in the game and one that I feel deserves a bit more praise than it gets…at least among its best players. Among the most overlooked teams on the SNES, The Oilers possess an abundance of speed, skill, and physicality that is evenly distributed among the team’s best players. Only a lack of depth on the bench prevents the Oilers from being considered a top-tier team, but with the right coach, lineup, gameplan, and crossed-fingers for no injuries, this is a team that can certainly compete with and defeat the best teams in the league. Forwards “Simpson 3:16” Corson-Simpson-Klima Where to start with this line? A first look at "Sugar" Shayne Corson would suggest that he’s not going to be the Oilers’ most dynamic scoring threat with a sub-par 55/45 shot. This fact is mostly true, but Corson brings so much to this team on the defensive side of the ice that makes him a valuable player nonetheless. At 212 lbs. and with a 65 in both defensive awareness and checking, Corson is great on the forecheck even when controlled by the AI. Simply put, Corson knows where to be on the ice to create turnovers and spark odd-man rushes or breakaways. His weight and checking also allow him to be a strong physical presence in general whereby he can take down a majority of the game’s skaters with ease. Perhaps making him even more appealing are his skating ratings of 65 in both Agility and Speed. With these ratings, Corson is a viable option for rushing the puck into the offensive zone and certainly is no stranger to scoring on dekes and the occasional one-timer. Next we have Craig Simpson, arguably the most effective bench player in the game who compares favorably to the likes of Carson, Linden, etc. Don’t let Simpson’s overall rating fool you-- he has the abilities in all of the crucial areas to be one of the Oilers’ most effective players and a scoring threat that should be not be ignored. Simpson’s skating is modest, if not, ho-hum at a mere 55 in Agility and Speed and his checking does not look threatening at a below average 45. However, at 204 lbs. Simpson is capable of making some effective checks from time to time but more importantly is capable of withstanding hits from some of the lighter players in the game. This factor is crucial as it allows Simpson to utilize his team-best 65 offensive awareness and dig right into the prime scoring areas. Here, a 65/85 shot comes into play as a deadly weapon that makes Simpson a dangerous player when he’s left alone with a lane to shoot. Last but not least is Petr Klima; undoubtedly the anchor of the Edmonton Oilers offense. A case can certainly be made for the 196 lb. Klima to be placed at Center where he can unleash his own potent one-timers through a 65/85 shot or go 1 on 1 with defenders with his deking and dangling abilities enhanced by 85 stickhandling. However, Klima being on the Right Wing maintains balance in the Edmonton Oilers offense. He can use his 85 Agility and Speed to quickly rush the puck into the offensive zone and either attack the net with a deke, or dish off to Simpson who has quietly slipped into a scoring area while the defense was too focused on Klima’s speed. With Klima at Center, this ability is lost as Simpson is generally too slow to lead the attack up ice, and Klima will likely have skated out of prime scoring areas or missed them altogether with only 55 offensive awareness. “Worth the Weight?” Weight-Simpson-Klima Strictly, a backup option and not recommended as a starter, Doug Weight’s average abilities (55 Agi/Spd/Off-Awr/ShotPwr+Acc/Checking and 65 defensive awareness) on both sides of the ice do not make him any more effective than Corson. Only in the event of Corson having an off game with fumbled pucks should Weight be brought in as his 65 stickhandling will not necessarily handcuff the team due to a viable pass receiver and puck carrier still being on the ice. It’s where Weight won’t necessarily help the Oilers that will handcuff the team. He may go off and have a big game from time to time, but squeezing consistent offense or defense out of Weight can be a major hassle due his having no outstanding skill in any one particular area. Elsewhere, the Edmonton Oilers bench is littered with similarly average bench players who also lack distinguishing features or outstanding skills in a particular area. Players such as Zdeno Ciger, Kevin Todd, or even Todd Elik will have to enter the game from time to time due to injuries or penalties. Like Doug Weight before them, they may not necessarily handcuff the team due to poor skills, but it will be a chore for them to contribute positively with the average skills they do have. Defensemen Manson-Kravchuk A solid pairing as Dave Manson and Igor Kravchuk both weigh in at 212 lbs. while their checking ratings are 65 and 55 respectively. This allows both defenders to be moderately physical with Manson being the heavy hitter of the team who can consistently knock down many of the game’s players (heavyweights included). Furthermore, both possess a strong knack for being in the right positions defensively as indicated by their respective 85 and 65 defensive awareness ratings. Both players can also bring some offense to the table with Manson being the front-runner of this pairing due to his 65 Agility and Speed ratings. Manson is the defensemen to rush the puck up ice if the coach decides to take that route. His skating and weight will allow him to absorb a hit or two, push to the net for dekes, or draw defenders away from the forwards and allow the forwards to get open to work their magic. Manson also notably packs a powerful, albeit inaccurate, 85/35 shot that could be occasionally effective in slapshot or one-timer situations. Offensively, Kravchuk (also 65 Agility) takes a backseat to Manson due to a slightly lower Speed rating (55) which can sometimes prevent him from quickly rushing the puck up ice without getting hit or turning the puck over. Kravchuk is not entirely useless as an offensive defenseman, but in consideration of average shot ratings (55/45) and his aforementioned Speed, he is certainly much more effective in a conservative, defense-first role where he only touches the puck occasionally for a deke attempt or two each game. On the Oilers bench, there are several options to choose from that while average, are competent enough to not hold the team back too much. Brian Benning’s crucial stats (204 lb. weight, 45 Agi/Spd/Stk Handling, 65 Def Awareness) suggest that he is an unspectacular, uncapable bench option. However, Benning under a coach’s control appears to inexplicably have enough speed to at least become a deking threat if the opposing team doesn’t strongly focus on him while he carries the puck. With a 212 lb. weight, 65/55 skating, and 55 defensive awareness/checking, Geoff Smith plays the most like Manson and Kravchuk and is therefore probably the best bench option that the Oilers have on defense. There is not much else to say about Smith except he is another decent defensive defenseman who probably should not be leading the attack offensively in most situations. Lastly, there is Luke Richardson, likely the best option among the remaining Oilers defensemen after Geoff Smith. Richardson ties with Brian Glynn as the Oilers heaviest defender at 228 lbs., while both defenders also have 55/55 skating and defensive awareness ratings. However, Richardson’s 55 stick handling edges out Glynn’s 45 which will be crucial in not further crippling the Oilers’ puck movement where Richardson may be receiving passes. Make no mistake though, Richardson’s main strength is physicality; any other attempts to make him an offensive threat will likely not succeed. If he can stick to laying down big body checks (65 checking) and can play smart, positional defense, he’s doing enough and should not be asked to provide much else. Summary A strong offense and a solid defense…as long as there are no injuries and penalties are kept to a minimum. Just about every element is brought to the table offensively in some form or another. Klima brings plus skating and the ability to execute dekes and dangles with high precision. Simpson and Klima both bring superior shooting skills that can make blasting deadly, accurate one-timers an absolute breeze as long as both players can get open. Corson scores the occasional goal, but most importantly, brings the defensive presence that causes havoc, turnovers, and scoring chances. Manson and Kravchuk bring the ability to play lockdown, tight defense and contribute offensively to go along with what the forwards already can do. Should any of the starters become injured, winning games with the Edmonton Oilers can sometimes become an uphill battle, but is not impossible. With their best players on the ice, the Oilers have all that is necessary to be a force on the SNES and recall the team’s glory days of years past…
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