It's no secret that NHL 15 lacks a few game modes and features that players expect from EA Canada and their yearly hockey simulation. While we admittedly had a bit of a panic attack when we saw what didn't make the cut, it turns out all those modes will appear in updates expected to roll out in September and October.

Phew...

One game mode that did make the cut, however, is the Online Versus mode that pits two players with similar skill levels (ideally) against one another. For those who have played this mode in past iterations, not a lot changed, but enough that you'll want to be prepared. For those who haven't played online, you’re in for a rude awakening. The player-versus-player experience can be brutal when you're just starting out, and if you don't want to find yourself on the wrong end of a lopsided game, have a look at our top five online tips that every player should know.

5. Maintain Puck Possession

This probably won't come as a shock, but the team that controls the puck for the majority of the game tends to win. It's not an exact science, but it's close enough that you’ll want to play the odds and make sure you hang on to that frozen piece of rubber as much as possible. Don't always feel the need to try and skate past or deke by three defenders. If you don't see something you like, circle back into the neutral zone or your own zone and regroup. It's better that you do nothing with the puck, rather than turn it over trying to force a play that isn't there.

4. Safe + Responsible Passes

It's one thing to try a cross-crease pass (more on that in a moment) two feet from your opposition's net, but it's another thing entirely to try it in the neutral zone or in front of your own goal. Building on what we spoke about in our last tip, maintain puck possession by making safe and responsible passes. Don't try to force the puck to a player that is well covered. Instead, pass the puck to someone who is open and can skate with it. It may seem rather tedious to keep-away, but chances are your opponent will soon make a mistake, and that's when you'll pounce.

3. Cross-Crease Passes + One-Timers

If you watch a real NHL game, you'll see cross-crease passes used as a primary way to score goals, and NHL 15 is no different. Now that you've made smart passes and maintained possession of the puck, it's time to look for an opening. Whether it's off the rush, from behind the net or out of the corner, keep your eyes peeled for a teammate on the opposite side of the opposing team's goal. If it looks like you can thread the needle, make the pass and load up on the one-timer. If you do this enough you're bound to put one or two pucks behind the other team's goalie. Some may look at this play as cheap given its effectiveness, but in reality this is a play used by the best in the world, so anyone who complains about you using it is just butt hurt.

2. Master the Poke Check

It took us about five seconds to figure out what the most effective way to defend is in NHL 15, and that's the poke check. For those who don't know, this basically means swinging your stick at the puck and your opponent's stick in an attempt to separate the two. If you play more than one or two games online, you'll have no doubt had this used against you many times, and if you want to survive you're going to have to learn to do the same. Practice it over and over until you get the hang of it, just make sure not to trip up the opposing player. Taking too many penalties is a good way to lose a game.

1. Identify + Exploit Weaknesses

Everybody that you go up against in the NHL 15 online game modes will have a different style. Some know two or three very effective ways to score and will spam you with them all day long, and others will be overly aggressive and always go for the big hit. The point is, use the first few minutes to see what you're up against, then start exploiting that strategy. Take the big hits for example. If your opponent is always trying to deliver a bone crunching check, anticipate it, deke around them and then go for the cross-crease pass for the easy tap-in.

See what we did there? We put it all together, and that's exactly what you'll have to do if you want to be competitive in the online game modes.