24/7 finale; A Tale of Two Cities
On Thursday night, HBO concluded their 24/7 series profiling the road to the Winter Classic for the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers.
Over the last four weeks, the show has offered fans a unique view into the lives of the two teams that otherwise never could have been seen.
The series finale took a symmetrical look at the two teams. In both a literal and figurative sense, it was a tale of two cities.
Beginning with Ilya Bryzgalov’s struggles in recent games, the show picked up with the Flyers final game of 2011 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The main focus was on Maxime Talbot and Jaromir Jagr, two former Penguins returning to Pittsburgh as members of the Philadelphia Flyers. Even this subplot had a contrasting storyline.
Talbot, a hero during the Penguins Stanley Cup championship run in 2009, was greeted warmly by his former team.
The same treatment was not afforded to Jagr.
Viewed as a turncoat and a mercenary for hire, Jagr was greeted with boos and jerseys with his number and unflattering distortions of his name, such as, “Jagoff” and “Clown”.
The show also profiled the Rangers final game of the year against the Florida Panthers.
New York dominated the Panthers, coasting to a 4-1 win. The most dramatic part of the game occurred when Michael Del Zotto was suckered punched in front of The Rangers goal. Mike Rupp immediately jumped in for his fallen teammate and beat the offending Panther to a pulp.
It was not the only time Rupp was to be featured in the episode.
After wrapping up with the Panthers game, the show’s focus immediately turned to the Winter Classic.
Each team was shown at their first practice on the outdoor rink. Then they were both shown skating with their family members. This portion of the show displayed the jovial nature of the event.
At the conclusion of Flyers practice, head coach Peter Laviolette brought it back to reality and explained that the game was not an event, it was an important two points that the Flyers needed to earn.
The difference between the two teams was made evident in both coach’s pre-game speeches.
Laviolette discussed how one-on-one battles were the key to victory.
Rangers coach John Tortorella expressed how important the physical game was going to be and how his players needed to finish their checks.
It was interesting to see that Tortorella had Rupp address the team prior to the game. Considering the role Rupp ultimately played on the game’s outcome, it was a strange bit of ironic foreshadowing.
As soon as the game began, the show’s presentation immediately became more cinematic. The show has always had wonderful music selection, but once the Classic began, so did the lush, atmospheric orchestral strings.
The most enjoyable part of 24/7 is the player’s interactions and behind-the-scenes look at games.
In the first period, Claude Giroux asked Rangers goalie Henrique Lundqvist if he could score a goal.
When Jaromir Jagr left the game with an injury, the viewer was able to see him receiving medical treatment in addition to explaining his symptoms.
Following the Rangers win, the Flyers waited to shake hands and Tortorella could be heard ordering that his players go nowhere near the Flyers.
What was probably the most interesting part of the episode was when James van Riemsdyk, Scott Hartnell and Giroux were waiting to take a faceoff during a TV timeout.
While the players talked, van Riemsdyk mentioned that he was going to imitate Artem Anisimov’s ‘shoot the goalie’ goal celebration if he scored a goal. Giroux and Hartnell took it as a joke and began joking about how they’d then have to fight.
As Giroux starts listing the fight matchups, van Riemsdyk explains that he was planning on doing the celebration to avenge Rupp mocking Jagr’s “salute” celebration after he scored his first goal.
Giroux couldn’t believe it happened and asked Brian Boyle if it was true. Boyle responded that he thought it was cool. The statement disgusted Hartnell and Giroux and the two players let Boyle know it with colorful language.
24/7 offers a thrilling look into life in the NHL. Whether a fan of the teams involved or not, the show is interesting to casual viewers and die-hard fans alike.
Fans have always known that players chirp at one another during games. Due to 24/7, we all have a better understanding of what is really being said.
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