I've played goalie every year since they introduced the mode and although they have improved how the goalie plays and the limb saves and everything in terms of it actually being playable at least in the offline modes it hasn't been since the first year or two, back then the AI actually scored goals, put them on net more than they missed, the AI shooting against you weren't all snipers regardless of what position they were in.
However I would disagree with the OP about going back to 04 or anything, 2K stuck with the arcade hockey style while EA switched to the more realistic and we don't have 2K hockey anymore because gamers wanted more realistic hockey and I think the majority of us still do, the issue isn't with the game's design it's with it's balancing. Like mentioned above if you play realistic goalie or realistic D (Which speaking as a goalie in real life, I do the same in game as I do IRL) and it's virtually impossible because the AI doesn't play realistic hockey.
I could pick any goalie in game be it Lundqvist, Price, Holtby, Quick and play realistic hockey, be it how I play or similar to how they play and it wouldn't work because none of the AI play realistic hockey.
Example: Let's say the puck is down in the bottom left corner of the rink, you have your two wings guarding the points, the Centre should be lurking around in the high slot/Left D position filling in for the Left D who should be in the corner trying to win the puck from the attacking player. The Goalie should be hugging the left post, either standing or in the VH or Butterfly depending on where the puck currently is and the Right D should be standing just outside the crease on the right side of the goal covering the open part of the net that the goalie isn't covering because he's hugging the post.
The AI in game never does this and that's why a lot of those cross crease pass one time goals go in. It's partially due to the goalie not getting over in time on occasion sure, but it's also because the right D man is never there, he's either chasing down another player and out of position or just standing around somewhere near without actually doing anything until after the AI has started making it's shot or pass attempt by which point it's too late for that D to do anything about it.
Funny how they talk about making the game more realistic when not even the AI plays it realistically
And as a forward the amount of times being a Centre I'm screening the goalie for a point shot or a one timer by a winger and the AI picks me to pass too, even when I'm in a net battle with a Defenseman and there's a point shot and a winger open, it still thinks I'm the best option to pass too when anybody who knows anything about hockey knows that I'm actually the worst option in that situation but nope the AI thinks that I can score on that despite it even telling me I'm doing a good job screening the goalie