I played an entire season of NHL 2003 on an emulator, and here is how it went


NHL 2003 was the first game I ever played back around when I was five on the PC. My mom got it at a garage sale, and I would spend my days playing it on the family computer, entranced by the comedic announcing duo of Jim Hughson and Don Taylor. Recently, Nick and I found a website that has these games on it downloadable on the Mac, and we downloaded a bunch of them and I knew I had to play this game since I hadn't played it in a while. In the back of my mind, I always wanted to fire up this game again, but my CD has been lost or misplaced at home, so this is the next best thing. I can still remember those days of hearing "Sweetness" by Jimmy Eat World and "She Loves Me Not" by Papa Roach playing in the background. This entire experience was nostalgic.


For starters, with the Dolphin Emulator, you can connect an Xbox controller through Bluetooth, so I did just that and was able to configure it to work like NHL 94 controls in the NHL games now. Did the emulator kill my Mac's battery? Yes. Was I going to stop it? No.


Franchise Mode


Rolling with the Devils, the season was crazy. I did not simulate a single game, as I am one who enjoys the action. The Devils went 51-19-5-7, recorded 114 points, and won both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference en route to the first seed in the East. The game did get easier at times, but I was still able to have competitive games by changing some sliders.


The team that gave me the most trouble was the New York Islanders. For some reason, changing the sliders for them meant they became the greatest team known to man, going 3-0-1 against the Devils. The teams did not face off until February 27 and tied in the first matchup (I turned ties off towards the end of the season, but ties did exist). The Islanders became the equivalent to the Soviets in this game mode.


Injuries plagued the roster, specifically the offense, for the entire season, but that did not matter. No Devils defenseman was lost due to injury, with a few guys missing some games for the flu. Brian Gionta was injured two separate times which resulted in a lost season. Somehow, Antti Aalto played 60 games despite suffering a partially torn MCL early on in the season. He recovered faster than anyone has ever recovered from an injury like that.


My favorite game of the year had to be game 82, or the final game of the season. I operate on a "play everyone" mentality. It's not like taking a guy out would have hurt the Devils, they won the Eastern Conference regardless. Everyone did play at some point during the season, but I dressed all the scratches against Buffalo for the final game and started Scott Clemmensen in goal. The overall of the lineup was 68. It was an absolutely incredible game, with the Devils losing 7-3. They didn't stand a chance.

The legendary Game 82 lineup

Transactions


I was all about acquiring depth to shore up the backups this season. I made no "big splash" moves, but here are all the trades and other moves I made. Also, the Sharks offered me 68 overall Vesa Toskala for Martin Brodeur three separate times. Only two guys really had a heavy presence in the lineup following their acquisition, Antti Aalto and Mikko Eloranta. The Devils did not need a big splash.


Antti Aalto was acquired before the season in a trade with Anaheim. Stephane Richer went the other way.


Mikko Eloranta was acquired from Boston for defenseman Andrei Zyuzin.


Petteri Nummelin was acquired from Columbus for Tommy Albelin.


Kamil Piroš was the only trade deadline addition, being traded from Atlanta for Ed Ward.


Michael Rupp was created late due to him being a rookie for the Devils in the real 2002-03 season.


Joey Tetarenko, a friend of Stranded, was acquired from Florida for another enforcer in Jim McKenzie.


Regular Season Standings


Here is how the standings around the league unfolded, by division.

Devils Statistics, Regular Season


The goals were spread all over the place with a few guys standing out from the rest. Here is how everyone on the Devils finished in terms of points this season.

  1. Joe Nieuwendyk, 79 GP, 57 G, 64 A, 121 Pts.

  2. Patrik Elias, 76 GP, 39 G, 40 A, 79 Pts.

  3. Scott Niedermayer, 81 GP, 16 G, 49 A, 65 Pts.

  4. Jeff Friesen, 64 GP, 28 G, 35 A, 63 Pts.

  5. Jamie Langenbrunner, 76 GP, 13 G, 36 A, 49 Pts.

  6. Brian Rafalski, 79 GP, 8 G, 41 A, 49 Pts.

  7. John Madden, 69 GP, 26 G, 19 A, 45 Pts.

  8. Oleg Tverdovsky, 81 GP, 9 G, 28 A, 37 Pts.

  9. Valeri Kamensky, 38 GP, 15 G, 15 A, 30 Pts.

  10. Christian Berglund, 66 GP, 14 G, 15 A, 29 Pts.

  11. Antti Aalto, 61 GP, 13 G, 15 A, 28 Pts.

  12. Mikko Eloranta, 72 GP, 15 G, 13 A, 28 Pts.

  13. Jay Pandolfo, 60 GP, 12 G, 15 A, 27 Pts.

  14. Scott Stevens, 80 GP, 10 G, 16 A, 27 Pts.

  15. Sergei Brylin, 74 GP, 13 G, 12 A, 25 Pts.

  16. Ken Daneyko, 78 GP, 3 G, 21 A, 24 Pts.

  17. Craig Darby, 32 GP, 13 G, 11 A, 24 Pts.

  18. Scott Gomez, 68 GP, 12 G, 12 A, 24 Pts.

  19. Colin White, 77 GP, 3 G, 20 A, 23 Pts.

  20. Sergei Nemchinov, 79 GP, 9 G, 13 A, 22 Pts.

  21. Bruce Gardiner, 27 GP, 11 G, 8 A, 19 Pts.

  22. Steve Guolla, 16 GP, 2 G, 7 A, 9 Pts.

  23. Brian Gionta, 35 GP, 2 G, 5 A, 7 Pts.

  24. Petteri Nummelin, 11 GP, 0 G, 6 A, 6 Pts.

  25. Jiri Bicek, 3 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 Pts.

  26. Joel Bouchard, 2 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 Pts.

  27. Stanislav Gron, 2 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 Pts.

  28. Turner Stevenson, 5 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 Pts.

  29. Joey Tetarenko, 9 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 Pts.

  30. Michael Rupp, 2 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 1 Pt.

  31. Andreas Salomonsson, 5 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 Pt.

  32. Raymond Giroux, 2 GP, 0 Pts.

  33. Mike Matteucci, 3 GP, 0 Pts.

  34. Kamil Piroš, 3 GP, 0 Pts.

  35. Mike Rucinski, 2 GP, 0 Pts.

Joe Nieuwendyk set Devils single-season records in goals, assists, and points in a season. He was there whenever I needed a goal, leading the league in goals and points.


Goalies


Martin Brodeur, 59 GP, 34-18-1, 2.49 GAA, .886 SV%

Corey Schwab, 26 GP, 11-6-4, 2.65 GAA, .890 SV%

Scott Clemmensen, 9 GP, 6-2-0, 3.08 GAA, .871 SV%


The goalies became a lot more consistent later in the year, but the multiple bad games are why their GAA and save percentages are what they are.


Playoff Tree/Results

Here is what the playoff tree looked like before round one. Of note, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim did not make the playoffs, so the Devils-Mighty Ducks real-life Stanley Cup matchup would not happen in my fictional universe.

Other Series Results

West

Round 1

#1 Los Angeles Kings vs. #8 Minnesota Wild, Wild win series 4-3

#2 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #7 Detroit Red Wings, Red Wings win series 4-0

#3 Colorado Avalanche vs. #6 Phoenix Coyotes, Avalanche win series 4-2

#4 Dallas Stars vs. #5 St. Louis Blues, Blues win series 4-3

Round 2

#3 Colorado Avalanche vs. #8 Minnesota Wild, Avalanche win series 4-3

#5 St. Louis Blues vs. #7 Detroit Red Wings, Red Wings win series 4-3

Round 3

#3 Colorado Avalanche vs. #7 Detroit Red Wings, Red Wings win series 4-2


East

Round 1

#2 Ottawa Senators vs. #7 Toronto Maple Leafs, Maple Leafs win series 4-2

#3 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. #6 New York Islanders, Lightning win series 4-1

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #5 Boston Bruins, Bruins win series 4-0

Round 2

#3 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. #5 Boston Bruins, Bruins win 4-2


In the first round, the Devils' matchup was the Carolina Hurricanes, a team that was first in the East for a while and actually gave me some problems early on. The Devils won the series in five games, highlighted by a Nieuwendyk hat trick in Game 3 in Raleigh and a 37-save performance by Brodeur in Game 5 to seal the series victory.


The Toronto Maple Leafs were next, upsetting the second-seed Ottawa Senators. This series went six games, but was very high-scoring, with goalies getting chased in almost every game. It was a crazy series.


Boston was the opponent in the Eastern Conference Final after they knocked off the Lightning. It is no surprise that the Western Conference Final was Colorado-Detroit either, renewing that rivalry. After getting off to a 2-0 series deficit, Joe Nieuwendyk sealed his hat trick and netted the overtime winner in Game 3. The Bruins won a game but the Devils responded again and headed back to Boston down 3-2. The Devils would win the next two games, heading to the Stanley Cup Finals to take on the Detroit Red Wings after a wild 9-8 Game 7 victory.


The Red Wings were the easiest task of them all. In a high-scoring series, the Devils swept the Red Wings much as they did in 1995. Joe Nieuwendyk was legitimately a glitch throughout the playoffs, and Martin Brodeur sealed the series with a 2-0 shutout in Game 4. The Devils reached the top of the mountain!


Awards


Hart (MVP)- Joe Nieuwendyk, New Jersey

Art Ross (Most Points)- Nieuwendyk

Rocket Richard (Most Goals)- Nieuwendyk

Norris (Best Defenseman)- Scott Niedermayer, New Jersey

Calder (Rookie of the Year)- Miika Elomo, Calgary

Vezina (Best Goalie)- Nikolai Khabibulin, Tampa Bay

Lady Byng (Sportsmanship)- Nieuwendyk

Selke (Defensive Forward)- Nieuwendyk

Conn Smythe (Playoff MVP)- Nieuwendyk

Jennings (Fewest GA)- Felix Potvin, Los Angeles

Masterton (Perserverance)- Nieuwendyk

Pearson (Outstanding Player)- Nieuwendyk

"EA Trophy" (Most Star of the Game Awards)- Nieuwendyk

President's Trophy (Most Points)- Devils

Wales (Eastern Conference Champ)- Devils

Campbell (Western Conference Champ)- Red Wings


Joe Nieuwendyk likely needs to build a new trophy case, as he took home nine awards. He was a glitch in this game, so it makes sense that he took home the hardware. What a season for the man!


Takeaways


Surprise: Valeri Kamensky. He averaged nearly a point-per-game in a reserve role, and when he was plugged into the lineup he did well.


Disappointment: Christian Berglund. He played on the second line all season but did not net second-line numbers. He was very unlucky. He got injured in the playoffs too.


This experience was one of the most fun I have had, and with classes being done it made for days not being so boring. Games like this were awesome to play when they came out and still hold a special place in my heart to this day.

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