As we all know, this is the best time of year to be a hockey fan. It’s the time of year when fans’ lives are dominated by a single tournament; when faithful devotees pick their favorites and hope they can carry them through to the end. That’s right, folks, it’s time to vote for the cover athlete for this year’s EA Sports hockey entry, NHL 15.

Oh, I guess the Stanley Cup playoffs are happening, too.

In addition to the teaser trailer above, in which no hockey is actually shown, EA has opened up the floor to voting for the next NHL cover star. Starting today, heading over to the official cover vote page lets fans vote on four head-to-head first round superstar matchups. The first round winners will face each other in the quarterfinals on May 19 in a bid to make it to the finals. Voting will end on June 1, and the overall winner will be announced on June 24.

Fans can also use Twitter or Instagram to cast their votes. Simply posting with one of the hashtags listed will register a vote for that player. Posting the hashtag on a Thursday will count as two votes for some reason.

  • Erik Karlsson - #NHL15Karlsson
  • Logan Couture - #NHL15Couture
  • T.J Oshie - #NHL15Oshie
  • P.K Subban - #NHL15Subban
  • Drew Doughty - #NHL15Doughty
  • Phil Kessel - #NHL15Kessel
  • Matt Duchene - #NHL15Duchene
  • Patrice Bergeron - #NHL15Bergeron

EA also issued a press release detailing some of the new and improved features found in NHL 15. A revamped player physics model and entirely new puck physics promise to make the game more lifelike than ever. Player models were built from the ground up, and include distinct, independent layers for the player's body, equipment and uniform. An upgraded Skill Stick system has been implemented, giving more control options to skilled players.

EA has focused on the game's presentation, as well, bringing in an entirely new broadcast team consisting of NBC's Mike "Doc" Emrick and Eddie Olczyk, as well as TSN analyst Ray Ferraro. The collaboration with NBC Sports will also affect pre-game and post-game presentation, and EA promises, "The most realistic broadcast package in a video game to-date." Even the fans get some love, with 9,000 distinct fan character models and more realistic reactions from the crowd.