We also enjoyed seeing the rivalries play out over the course of our preview. Each team has three major and three minor rivals. In Franchise mode, games against rivals will be more intense and physical. As the season progresses, rivalries will change as your teams interact. For example, a big trade (like Thornton being sent to San Jose) could help push a team up on your rivals list.

NHL 2K7 expands on a well established system with lots of new presentation options, animations, and gameplay features, while retaining everything we liked about previous entries such as skill-drilling minigames. It's impossible to consider this game without wondering how EA's rival offering turns out, and neither game isquite ready for review yet. But with loads of content and the intriguing new format, NHL 2K7 certainly won't be a pushover.