I feel the same way.
Where's all the hard-hitting, faced-paced, strategy of the NHL? Nowhere: it's just hold the puck out to the side, and curl around, waiting for your opponent to take a penalty, or the AI to screw up. Poke checks are useless, stick lifts are useless, hitting is anemic at best, and so on.
It's extremely difficult to play defense in this game, because in order to play defense well...you can't really play actual hockey, you have to use some half neutered "stay between the puck and the net (maybe he'll make a bad pass/shot or turn the wrong way) strategy.
The passing is horrendous, has been for years, same with player selection.
Goalies are something else entirely, where do you even begin? Do overalls actually mean anything, or are they just there to make us think they aren't all the same, just re-skinned? How is it that my opponents objectively worse goaltender is standing on his head, blocking multiple shot with the edges of his equipment, when my (supposedly) superior goaltender seemingly forgot everything everything he knew about goaltending?
I want to like the game, I LOVE hockey, but I just can't: maybe it's just the "quirks" of HUT, but it's not a fun hockey sim. And it hasn't been for a good while.