Tonight was the return of 24/7 Road to the Winter Classic. This year, my favorite team is involved as we get to follow a month in the season of the New York Rangers, as well as one of my most hated teams, the Philadelphia Flyers. I'm not here to tell if this is good or not, because everyone who watches it knows this is the best hockey will ever look. Instead, I'll just give you my random thoughts on what we saw from HBO's access.
-No documentary can ever match 24/7 unless they are allowed to leave expletives unedited.
-Speaking of, while expecting the F-bombs to fly from John Tortorella, Peter Laviolette stormed out of the gate with 5 F-bombs during the intro. Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy tweeted that he found 43 F-bombs tonight, a good start.
-That intro, is as epic as anything that HBO has done. I'm dead serious, very well done.
-It was clear to me that we got to know more Rangers than Flyers in the first episode. The specific players profiled was about even (maybe an edge to the Flyers), but we get to see the Rangers as a group interact amongst themselves. This wasn't true with the Flyers.
-Not enough words can be said for Ilya Bryzgalov. The man who was the star of this interview, stole the show with his first interview. One of the two reasons he's my favorite Flyer (the other being as last playoffs showed, can turn into a sieve at the worst time). He also warned me to never come in contact with a tiger ever. Either the tiger will kill me, or the government will after I kill it to save my own life.
-The Rangers locker room scenes were definitely more compelling, but that's because the Rangers lost some games, while the Flyers are on a winning streak. Flyers didn't find their compelling scene until the Claude Giroux concussion. Probably the reason their comeback win in Buffalo was bumped.
-Fun to see Matt Cooke call Scott Hartnell a "piece of shit", while Hartnell calls Cooke the "dirtiest player in the league". Also smart, since both are right.
-I enjoyed everything that resulted from Artem Anisimov's goal celebration. From the brawl, to the reaction to the penalties that were called, to Sean Avery and Marian Gaborik's reaction upon seeing Anisimov in the locker room. All I saw last week was how everyone tried to tell Arty that it's wrong; turns out it was able to be mocked and brought out the humor of Anisimov. I now expect Russians to be funny if their in the NHL.
-Tortorella is as fiery as I thought he is behind the scenes, while Laviolette seems very serious. While the Flyers seem to have the personality of their coach (seem very boring outside of Bryzgalov), Rangers don't, but are very tight-knit, which help them succeed. Once thing is for sure, his calling out of players makes me think of Bill Parcells (best case Rangers fans, Torts wins a 2nd one like Tuna; worst case, he doesn't win in his remaining coaching stops, including here). Plus, he taught me not to "shit my pants" in regards to Phil Kessel.
-Torts: "...if you start changing some things around because there's some struggles, everyone second-guessing. It's a matter of not losing your patience." I hope he thinks of this quote the next time he decides to switch up the lines again.
-Who knew that we would find a worse victory song then the Washington Capitals "Beat Dat Beat" from last year, but the Flyers found it with Mac Miller.
-I'm pretty sure we won't see Brad Richards again unless something happens to him (the anti-Bryzgalov). I do want more Brandon Prust instead of the quick punchlines he said tonight.
-Finally, I had to end with Ryan Callahan with his family, particularly his 95-year old grandma. You can make a case that she stole the show tonight; her and Bryzgalov. If I was Cally, when I'm arguing with the refs, I'd bring her down to help out. By the way, if you don't feel any type of emotion when Cally embraces her, then you don't have a soul.
So ends the first episode of 24/7 Road to the Winter Classic. I'll be back for each of the 3 episodes with my thoughts. Until then, as Artem Anisimov would say, go reload your weapon.