IGN gave NHL 08 their prestigious sports game of the year award, and several other publications did the same. Its innovative stick controls via the right analog stick completely revolutionized the way EA's hockey series is played and NHL 09 looks to refine the system even further.
The biggest addition that IGN were shown during their visit to EA's Vancouver studio is the defensive skill stick. NHL 08 introduced the right stick as a means to deke, pass and shoot. Pretty much everything you could want to do when you have possession of the puck was possible. Now NHL 09 is introducing the defensive skill stick. It's the same basic premise.