Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thoughts On First Episode of HBO's 24/7

The first episode of 24/7: The Road to the Winter Classic, which documents both the Rangers and the Flyers leading up to their Jan. 2 showdown in this season's Winter Classic, debuted on HBO tonight. I've been eagerly anticipating this documentary ever since the Rangers were first announced as a participant in the Winter Classic, and the show certainly did not disappoint.

Click below to read my thoughts on the first episode of 24/7 and what I liked/didn't like about it.

- Ilya Bryzgalov sure is a unique dude. He definitely does not have the personality of your prototypical hockey player, that's for sure. He talked about how he's been reading about different galaxies in the universe and how the planet earth was created in his first on-camera interview, and then talked about this bottle of what I think was tiger's blood (?) while he was getting treatment from a Flyers trainer later on in the show. He seems like an interesting guy to have a conversation with and I felt like HBO did a really good job making him standout with his different personality.

- John Tortorella was pretty much everything I expected and more. I think his use of F-bombs is going to make Rex Ryan's language in Hard Knocks seem like Mother Teresa. It's really funny to hear him chewing guys out on the bench and I couldn't stop laughing just about every time he started yelling and cursing at somebody. My favorite Torts moment in this episode was probably him yelling at Brian Boyle about how he forgot to pick up his man on a goal against the Maple Leafs because he was paying too much attention to wearing a mic for HBO. It's really something you have to truly see to appreciate.

- I thought the star of the show was Brandon Prust. Hearing him and Wayne Simmonds cursing at each other right before they dropped the gloves was simply amazing, and he had a ton of funny one-liners. My favorite was when the team was out at a restaurant in Buffalo and Marian Gaborik was drinking a Corona, to which Prust commented, "What is that - your sixth beer, Gaby? We got a game tomorrow." I didn't know Prust was so personable away from the rink, but that's why this show is so great. You really get to see guys in a different light versus the intimidating personas they carry with them on the ice.

- The scene focusing on Ryan Callahan playing in Buffalo and seeing his family was really cool, especially when he was having a conversation with his grandmother following the game. Again, it just shows how all these guys are just like us and have family and lives away from hockey. It also reinforced just how much Cally appreciates and respects this game and is still very much a kid at heart. It definitely shows with the way he plays on the ice.

- Hearing Artem Anisimov cursing in Russian and him really not understanding what he did wrong with his "rifle" goal celebration against the Lightning was very funny. It also shows the difference in cultures since apparently celebrations like that are normal in Russia, according to Anisimov. It was good to see the team ragging on him and joking about it the day after. Again, it just shows how guys like Prust and Boyle keep things loose in the dressing room and have no problem ragging on everybody.

- The profile on Sean Avery was cool, and getting to hear about his experience going from the Rangers to the Connecticut Whale to back with the Rangers all within the span of a couple of months really showed how much he loves this team and this game. It's too bad he's already the odd-man out of the lineup and his future with the team is very much clouded once again.

- I thought HBO did a really good job of bouncing back and forth between both teams. I imagine it's a tough task to keep both sets of fans interested throughout the entire show since it's not like one team is the focus of the episode, but I was genuinely interested from start to finish. It was cool to compare the different personalities and such of both locker rooms.

- Not nearly enough Henrik Lundqvist, but it's only one episode. Also, you gotta figure that teams don't really want their goaltenders spending so much time in front of the camera since they have a strict rhythm they go through to keep them focused on game day.

- I was hoping to see more Marty Biron in the show. For a guy that loves to talk and talk and talk I don't think he even got one line in the entire episode. Hopefully, that'll change next week.

- Overall, I thought the episode was tremendous. It was really interesting to see all these guys acting like normal human beings when they're away from the rink. They all have their own families, they all like to have fun and they all seem to really be a close-knit bunch who keeps things loose around each other. I already can't wait for next week's episode. It's funny because even though we already got a look at what goes on behind the scenes with last year's 24/7 installment, it's still different when it's your team that's being focused on. It's just humorous and weird to see guys like Brandon Dubinsky yelling and cursing on the ice when he's so well-spoken away from the rink. It's just a different spin on the game that makes you realize how down to earth all these guys really are. Or at least that's the way I feel.

That's it for tonight. I hope the beat writers ask the team about the show tomorrow because it should be interesting to hear reactions from the players and John Tortorella about what they thought/heard of how the first episode was received.

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