Part I of '24/7'; This is gonna be good
Since 2008, the Winter Classic has proven to be one of the most anticipated events of the NHL calendar year.
However, a newer component to the Classic has emerged, one that may actually be just as exciting as the game itself.
HBO’s all-access series, “24/7” began it’s coverage of the Winter Classic last season when it filmed the build-up to the outdoor game between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.
This season’s series will do the same, except this time the focus will be upon the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers as the two teams gear-up for their outdoor event at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park on January 2.
The series made its premiere on Wednesday night and did not disappoint.
While the show focused on several individual players, the main point of the episode focused upon the grueling nature of the sport of hockey.
“It is a gradual process taking hold not over weeks and months but years; decades; and entire lives,” narrator Liev Schreiber epically stated. “The game engraves its way onto the body. It envelops itself around the soul. Insistently. Excruciatingly. Completely. Hockey becomes them.”
Following a four-minute intro that could have had any one running through a wall, the award winning series began profiling the 85-year history of the Rangers.
From there, the show directed its focus upon the Flyers. Discussing the team’s own storied history, the program made sure to highlight several key dynamics of this year’s team. Head coach Peter Laviolette’s high-expectations, the trading of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, and of course all the new faces in the locker room.
There of course was one new team member who received a little bit more attention than the others.
Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov displayed almost immediately why he is a favorite of the media.
Bryzgalov later educated everyone about tigers and the heavy penalties that the Chinese implore against those who hunt rare breads of the species.
A softer side of the Rangers was also displayed.
Brian Boyle, Brandon Prust and Henrik Lundqvist led a group of under privileged children part of the team’s “Garden of Dreams” foundation to Radio City Music Hall to watch the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
Of course, while those Rangers were off serving the community, Sean Avery was at a photo shoot.
The show also offered a behind the scenes look at a few of the two team’s most recent games. For any hockey fan it is always a pleasure to view the players and coaches in their element. Often divided by television or glass, all was out in the open for the fans to see.
The show focused on the Flyers match-ups with the Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning. The Penguins game focused upon Max Talbot and his first meeting with his old team as well as the Flyers clinching first place with the win.
The Tampa Bay game of course focused upon the injury to Claude Giroux. The series allowed the fans to see the moments immediately after Wayne Simmonds made contact with Giroux’s head and displayed Simmonds sitting next to Giroux after the shift to see if he was okay.
The show ended with the Flyers traveling to Washington, questioning whether they would be able to overcome the injury to Giroux.
Prior to the Penguins game, Laviolette announced the starters and the team gave a raucous yell when Talbot was addressed as the starting center against his former team. Laviolette even commented that he might as well get used to playing against the Penguins early.
After the win against the Penguins, it was shown that the team celebrates every victory by playing Mac Miller’s “Knock, Knock”. Miller is a 19-year old rapper from Pittsburgh. Expect his iTunes sales to skyrocket tomorrow morning.
Simmonds donates time
One of the more touching moments came when Wayne Simmonds attended the opening of a local Philadelphia arena as part of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. Simmonds spent time with the kids and participated in drills.
Special night for Callahan
Buffalo native Ryan Callahan had a chance to host two-dozen of his relatives when the Rangers played the Sabres in Buffalo. Callahan scored a goal and took a penalty that his 95-year old grand mother was none too pleased with. She stated that if she could, she would have charged down to the ice to give the ref a piece of her mind.