These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Catharsis Factor: Your favorite team got beat by a hated rival team? Just play a virtual rematch of the offending game, put every slider in your favour, and then go demolish said rival team in a Curb-Stomp Battle.
Growing the Beard: After a lull in the early-to-mid-2000s with lagging sales, NHL 08, with its new control scheme and improved gameplay, was a commercial and critical success, as were the following iterations.
Good Bad Bugs: In NHL 09, should the puck ricochet into the net off of a defenseman, the celebration cutscene will show the defender partying with the opposing team.
Most Annoying Sound: The "click-click clack-clack" soundnote Supposedly the goalie banging his stick on the ice that comes at the end of a penalty.
Scrappy Mechanic: Goaltender controls. Granted, it's not easy to replicate the kinds of movements goalies need to make in real life to cover every potential hole but it still seems like the developers could put in just a bit more effort.
Any sort of play along the posts is a particular problem. The hug command basically locks the player to the post making it very difficult to get to the other side of the net in an odd man situation. There's also no good way of using the pad to press against the post in order to stop wraparounds and shots from off to the side. The post hug somewhat helps, but in additions to the locking issue, when combined with the butterfly trigger will leave the 5 hole wide open.
The third-person goalie camera means that it is extremely easy to lose track of the puck right in the low slot - i.e., right in front of you.
They basically gave up in 13 making most of the controls automatic save for positioning. Reaction has been mixed.
Faceoff controls. Even if you set the particular difficulty bar for it low to your advantage, it is still regarded as such by some gamers because of how unintuitive the controls are and the opposing player will usually get his stick to the puck first as soon as the official drops it to the ice.
Stop Helping Me!: The "scouting report" during intermissions, which give out either obvious advice, or poorly-worded "advice", both of which aren't really necessary to win a game.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks: The fighting mechanics originally looked pretty realistic in NHL 2004, but got overhauled in NHL '07, where fights ended in just one or two punches. It got changed again in NHL '10 to a first-person view, and reactions to it have been mixed. It seems they finally got it right in 14 which switches to a third-person view with a repurposed engine from EA's Fight Night franchise.
They Just Didn't Care: The reaction from some fans of the franchise about the lack of attention paid to recent games' creation modes, particularly Create-A-Team.