While the league is trying to move away from the sport’s more violent tendencies, few would deny that fighting still has its uses in the modern NHL.
Fighting in NHL 21 is fun, with the fight mechanics being just deep enough for each scrap to be different and interesting. Plus, your team does benefit from you being good at fighting in crucial situations.
Here, we’re going through everything that you need to know to about fighting in NHL 21, from knowing how and when to initiate a fight to then winning the scrap.
How to start a fight in NHL 21
It’s become increasingly difficult to start a fight in EA Sports’ NHL games over the years, but in NHL 21, there are still a few reliable ways to start a fight.
The main way to initiate a fight in NHL 21 is to use the initiate and accept fight controls. In dead puck situations like faceoffs and after the referee has blown the whistle, you can double-tap Triangle/Y while near another opponent to attempt to draw them into a fight.
In open ice, either after a whistle or if you’re still controlling a player away from the puck, you need to skate close to an opponent before trying to initiate a fight. However, the other player might ignore your efforts.
It seems to be that trying to initiate a fight around the faceoff circle is more effective in NHL 21. Before the referee drops the puck, double-tap Triangle/Y to make one of your wingers whack the nearest opponent with their stick, or make one of your defenders call across the duel and wiggle their gloves.
If successful, a fight will ensue just as the puck drops. If you decide to play for the puck in the faceoff, you may end up cancelling the potential fight. So, once you’ve pressed the buttons to initiate the fight, you’ll need to commit.
Particularly against the computer, you can utilise serious fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct to coax your foes into a fight.
If you want to start a fight in NHL 21, just wait for an opponent to have their back to you while up against the boards. Then, surge in using hustle (L3) and lay down a check. If it’s a foul, an opponent will almost certainly drop the gloves for a fight.
To start a fight in a way that doesn’t rely on you waiting for the opportune moment, utilise the offside rule.
All you need to do is skate into the offensive zone, wait for your teammates to break in, and then quickly skate back to the other side of the blue line, and then back into the offensive zone to trigger an offside call.
Once the offside has been called, there’ll be a short window where you still have the puck. Next, fire a shot at the goaltender. Someone from the other team will fly in to start a fight and, best of all, your player will only sit for the five minutes for fighting and not for committing a foul.
Here’s an example of how to start a fight by using the offside call:
If you’re playing against another player, either on the couch or online, you’ll have to wait for them to accept your attempts to initiate the fight. This is achieved by them double-tapping Triangle/Y in the small window after you’ve successfully initiated a fight.
How to fight in NHL 21
Once your attempt to initiate a fight, by double-tapping Triangle/Y or being unsportsmanlike, has been accepted, two players will fling off their gloves and take a fighting stance.
Next, the players will either clash together to grab jerseys while fighting, or circle to throw punches from range.
Regardless of the NHL 21 controls set-up you’re using, you’ll always need to use the two triggers and the two analogues on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One controllers to fight.
The aim of the fight it to deplete your opponent’s energy bar (found in the bottom corner, under the player’s name) before they drain your bar. To do this, you need to land punches and make them miss their punches.
At the start of the fight, if the pugilists are standing apart, you won’t be able to use the pushing and pulling fight controls. However, striking from range is preferred by taller enforcers. If you want to pull the two fighters together, hold L2/LT to grab, or tap the trigger to fake a grab.
Dodging and blocking is key, using R2/RT to deflect hits and lean away tires your opponent and creates openings for counter-punches.
If your opponent is left open, using the right analogue to fire a quick overhand can be effective – especially if they continue not to block or dodge. If they’re blocking or leaning away a lot, using an uppercut (see controls further down) can be more effective.
While in a tussle, with both fighters grabbing each other’s jersey, you can use the left analogue to push and pull your opponent. Timing this with a follow-up punch or a dodge can increase your chances of landing a punch or evading one.
Fighting Tips for NHL 21
Although the fight controls in NHL 21 are quite simple, several little tips can help you win fights and make the most of their benefits.
Keep moving and pick your punches to win a fight
If you get in the first punch in an NHL 21 fight, you can find yourself able to continue to smash in overhands and quickly surge to a victory. However, if they block a shot or dodge, your opponent can easily counter.
So, the best way to fight in NHL 21 is to do so strategically. Work openings by pushing, pulling, and dodging, following up with an overhand-overhand-uppercut combination.
However, if you just hold down the R2/RT button to try to avoid all of their punches, you could quickly see them pound you down or throw you off balance.
So, stay active, keep moving, dodging, pushing, and pulling, but time your punches with the openings, as missing punches is a sure-fire way to lose a fight if you’re against a competent enforcer.
Select the best enforcers to win a fight
Perhaps the best tip for fighting in the new ice hockey game is to pick your battles, particularly when it comes to who you’re using as your enforcer.
Any line can commence a fight, and you really don’t want to risk injury and ensure time in the box for one of your star players by having them fight.
Coming into a fight with a skater who has highly-rated fighting skill, balance, and strength attributes (the best of which we’ve listed below) can give you a huge advantage and increase your chances of getting a one-punch or swift knockout.
Also, the fighters in the game don’t tend to have great overall ratings, allowing you to lose them from your lines for five minutes without missing a key player on the ice.
Timing is everything when it comes to fighting
If you’re against the computer, your opponent likely won’t drop the gloves too often, unless coaxed into battles by your own misconduct. So, it’s best to choose the best opportunities to start a fight.
Along with trying to fight when the line with your enforcers and best fighters is on the ice, you’ll also want to initiate a fight in NHL 21 when the energy of your lines is low.
When plays go dead or a new line comes out, in the bottom corner, you can see the coloured energy bars for each of your lines. When these are low and you need to change the momentum of a game, you should try to start a fight.
If you win the ensuing fight, the energy levels of your lines will increase substantially, giving you a boost while also stifling your foe. Losing the fight, however, will grant the opposing team an energy boost, so be sure to pick your battles wisely.
The best fighters of NHL 21
The majority of enforcers in NHL 21 aren’t particularly useful outside of their fighting skill, often having an overall rating below 72.
However, several skaters boast lofty fighting skill, balance, and strength attributes which combine to make them excellent enforcers while also being useful in open play.
We will release an article on the best enforcers of NHL 21, but for now, you can find a list of some of the best fighters in NHL 21 below.
|Milan Lucic||92.67||LW||78||Calgary Flames|
|Zdeno Chára||92.67||LD/RD||84||Boston Bruins|
|Dustin Byfuglien||91.67||RD/LD||87||Free Agent|
|Ryan Reaves||91.33||RW||79||Vegas Golden Knights|
|Jamie Oleksiak||91.00||LD/RD||80||Dallas Stars|
|Zack Kassian||90.33||RW||81||Edmonton Oilers|
|Brian Boyle||90.33||C/LW||79||Florida Panthers|
The ‘Fighter Score’ is a calculated average of the player’s key fighting attribute ratings.
All of the fighting controls for NHL 21
Regardless of if you’re using the Skill Stick, Hybrid, or NHL 94 Controls when playing NHL 21, the fighting controls remain the same.
These are all of the fighting controls that you need to know to start and win fights in NHL 21.
|NHL 21 Fighting||PlayStation 4||Xbox One|
|Initiate Fight||Triangle (double-tap)||Y (double-tap)|
|Accept Fight (when an opponent tries to initiate)||Triangle (double-tap)||Y (double-tap)|
|Grab||L2 (hold)||LT (hold)|
|Overhand Punch||R (upwards)||R (upwards)|
|Uppercut||R (downwards)||R (downwards)|
|Push||L (upwards)||L (upwards)|
|Pull||L (downwards)||L (downwards)|
|Block/Lean Back||R2 (hold)||RT (hold)|
That’s everything that you need to know about fighting in NHL 21, from picking the right time to fight to having a better shot at winning fights.