More than anything, ice hockey is a game of crazy bounces and wild caroms, and the Skill Stick delivers these in spades. Thankfully, there are few, if any, "money" plays to be found. If you're going to score, you'll need a combination of hard work and a dash of luck, as it takes real, live hockey smarts to put a puck in the back of the net. Working the biscuit around the perimeter, cycling down low, and grinding away along the boards will produce scoring chances. Even better, the AI uses these same methods and plays more realistically than we've ever seen before.
The other big difference this season is easy to spot, and that's the visuals. No longer chugging at an eye-aching 30 frames per second, NHL 08 runs like a well-oiled machine, from the hyper-realistic skating physics to the spectacular goaltending moves. Other than a few middling annoyances - way too many shots clang off the post and scads of Gary Thorne's phrases get spewed repeatedly - you'll be hard-pressed to find much that'll detract from a superb experience.
EA has even gone ahead and created online leagues to update their formerly no-frills multiplayer offerings, much to the joy of next-gen gamers across the land. We have had some issues with lag and connectivity, though, so until those get completely worked out we're not ready to give online functionality a complete thumbs up just yet.