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From The Outside – E2 | HBO 24/7 Flyers/Rangers. By Paul Cuthbert

December 22, 2011
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Hockey This Week

Hockey This Week

Episode 2 – HBO 24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the Winter Classic.

After showing some popular scenes from Episode 1, Episode 2 of HBO 24/7 opened with a jam session by Henrik Lundqvist and tennis star John McEnroe. They were practicing for a benefit in February and performing the song “Hero” by the Foo Fighters. As a Rangers fan and a huge Foo fan, it was a nice way to get things started.

Hank showed the world some of his guitar skills and touched on how he loves all the things he can do in the city away from the game. HBO’s film crew moves in real close on these guys sometimes. Someone in the editing booth really loves Hank’s eyes.

The episode took off from there with a quick spot on Dan Girardi saying his goodbyes to his wife and kid before a two game road trip and then right into the office of Paul Holmgren sharing his thoughts on the health of Flyers stars Claude Giroux and Chris Pronger.  A great swing between both by HBO, showing the off the ice moments we rarely ever see or consider.

Cut to coach Peter Laviolette in a blinding pink tie talking pre-game strategy and we’re on the ice watching the Flyers put 5 goals past the Caps to the sounds of “Roll with the Changes” by REO Speedwagon. Have to admit, it worked and in between goals, HBO went back and forth with off-ice interviews of coaches and players on the team plane. Just a great piece of editing in capturing the “high flying” Flyers roll off their 6th win in a row.

Cue up the action movie soundtrack and in beautiful slow motion; we get the New York Rangers walking to the team plane like they were in a scene from “Ocean’s Eleven” or “Mission Impossible.” A little over the top for me especially when they follow that scene up with Torts showing game video of the Dallas loss looking like Gabe Kotter in a classroom scene from the hit seventies show “Welcome Back Kotter.” Could do nothing but laugh at those two scenes. Still laughing.

Next, a quick look at the Flyers riding the bus through Montreal  and a listen to Danny Briere’s thoughts on 19 year old rookie Sean Couturier. Then we get to sit across the bed for a moment with Flyers rookies Harry Zolnierczyk and Zac Rinaldo, while they talk about life as NHL rookies and playing with legend Jaromir Jagr. They joke about how they’ve gone from playing Jagr in Sega Genesis as kids to being real life teammates. What a trip, huh?

We were treated once again to Ilya Bryzgalov take on life with a brief breakfast discussion about how his Husky is a hot girl. The jabs from teammates were great referring back to Episode 1 calling him “Mr. Universe” and vowing not to “kill tigers” in Russia. Though I believe Bryz said China was the wrong place to kill them. Anyway, a fun scene that everyone wanted a follow up on.

Back to the Rangers for a quick spot on Marc Staal, his progress and the video of the hit that knocked him out by his own brother Eric. Torts reflects briefly on the effect of Marc’s absence on the team but says, “we gotta go about our business and play.” We then wake up from an afternoon nap with Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust, watch them get dressed and they join the “action, thriller music, slow motion walk” through the tunnels of the Scottrade Center before their game with the Blues. Really?

HBO then takes us back to the ice and we get to see a sloppy Rangers first period effort observed and commented on profanely by Torts. Now picture yourself as a young kid and you just broke the living room lamp or you were fresh to your mother. You run up to your room and pull a blanket over your head and dreadfully await the arrival of your father to tell you how wrong and awful you are. He curses and screams and threatens that you better not act like or do that again, or you will not get to play anymore. Well, that was basically the scene in the Rangers locker room after the first period. Rangers players do not like angry coach Tortorella. After the 4-1 loss, the team is told to “screw it on straight” when they get to Phoenix.

Before the game against the Habs, coach Laviolette reminds the team they are a targeted team as a result of their good play of late. Cut to a good scene of Jagr talking the boys up before leaving the locker room and more great footage of the game on the ice. We were treated to some raw exchanges with Laviolette and the referees after a non-call on a tripped up Jagr and then we see Lavs going on about bad calls made on Flyers players only because they “were in Montreal.” Fun segment and great footage in between periods not only of coach Laviolette and his video staff but a great scene also of the referee crew and their take on the events of the game. The Flyers go ahead and take care of the Habs but get season ending bad news about Pronger. A bittersweet 7th win in a row.

Film of the Rangers practice after Blues loss touches a little on Avery not playing and the return of Mike Rupp after 22 games. We are then shown a nice piece on Tortorellas’ relationship with a young Rangers fan named Liam. It’s the episodes “feel good” moment and a good one at that.

Back to the status of Claude Giroux briefly and more comedy by Bryzgalov who feels that defensemen are crazier and weirder than goalies. He says “they are told to block shots while he’s the guy wearing all the protective goalie gear.”  Good point by the Bryz. If you didn’t know it before, Danny Briere is divorced and a father of 3 sons. He’s also having Sean Couturier stay with him. So he’s pretty much looking after 4 sons. Another personal side we don’t get to see.

HBO comes back again with great ice level footage of the Rangers and Coyotes beating the heck out of each other in a game that was very chippy. They take us back inside the Rangers locker room which turns into a medical ward for Fedotenko and Eminger. Rangers win on a last second goal by Richards in front of a pretty good crowd in Glendale. Rangers players celebrate not only the win but a happy coach Tortorella after the game.

The episode finally begins to wind down as Scotty Hartnell discusses the upcoming road swing before returning to play in the Winter Classic and Claude Giroux is seen showing good signs of getting back into the lineup. Before they leave Philly though, the Flyers get tuned up by the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins 6-0 and Couturier takes a puck to the back of the head. Tough game for the Flyers. HBO shows us a great exchange between Milan Lucic and Wayne Simmonds wrapped up with a post game talk by coach Laviolette who tells his squad to “Let this loss burn, use it for the next game and get it straight.”

Meanwhile the New York Rangers are once again filmed returning to New York and their luxury cars in slow motion, like a closing montage of HBO’s Entourage. Slow, cool and rich baby! We get it already.

Girardi returns home, Torts little buddy Liam goes to sleep and Giroux suits back up for Flyers. Fade to black.

Puck drops on Episode 3, same time, same place, next Wednesday! Till then, Happy and Safe Holidays!

Paul Cuthbert
Hockey This Week

Follow Paul on Twitter @PCuthbert_HTW

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