The graphics have been even more improved from last year. Now the 'cyber players' look so close to their real life counterparts that their hard to distinguish. Player models are updated with more life like skin, hair and features. This includes more facial animations and emotions. The coaches are also redone in this manner. The in-game meanwhile adds a whole slew of new animations, cutscenes, goalie animations and enhancements to the fighting engine.
In the control department, NHL 2005 adds a new feature called Open-Ice control. This feature lets you potentially control players without the puck, set up for picks, double team and more. Shooting wrist shots and slap shots are also now mapped to separate buttons for more flexibility.
The gameplay introduces a new feature as personalities for players. Such that a player like Tie Domi will play more like an enforcer, while Markus Naslund will rely more on finesse and skill. You will be relied on to balance this personalities on each line of a team to create chemistry. The dynasty mode has been redone with a new interface and tweaks. Free Agency and Trading has been tweaked along with the handling of a team. The new system allows you to keep up to date on weekly injuries/streaks reports, letters from your owner, players, etc.
This year adds new modes such as the World Cup tournament and Free-for-All. In Free-For-All players compete 2 on 2 trying to score on the other while also defending. Along with the modes come minor tweaks, such as the options for no touch icing, delayed offsides and shootout options for tied games. The create a team feature remains in this year but create a player didn't make it in. Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson return with commentary.