Peter Laviolette

Five standouts from HBO 24/7 Flyers/Rangers episode two


The second episode of “HBO 24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the Winter Classic” began with Henrik Lundqvist jamming with … John McEnroe. That was a pretty stunning opening, yet an hour later, it barely reverberates compared to the rest of the content. Here are five things that stood out the most from the second hour of the network’s fascinating documentary series.

1. The Kids

Children dominated episode two, covering every end of the spectrum.

On the adorable side, Dan Girardi’s (year and a half old) son Landon rocked his little toy guitar but couldn’t quite connect on his father’s one-timer passes when cameras were on. Danny Briere’s considerably older boys interacted with Sean Couturier, who is upholding the time-honored tradition of living with an older player as a rookie. Briere’s kids trolled Couturier while they played hockey video games and clearly reveled in his presence.

The most heartwarming moment featured the softer side of John Tortorella, who regularly exchanges text messages with Liam, a boy who with cerebral palsy. His reaction to the New York Rangers’ jaw-dropping last-tenth-of-a-second win against the Phoenix Coyotes added some gravity to that moment.

2. Good Torts/Bad Torts

That interchange with Liam gave Tortorella some valuable dimension, because the other footage features a starling, profane taskmaster. (Some believe that his intensity will eventually burn the team out, which is a stance you’re welcome to debate in the comments.)

source: Getty Images3. Peter Laviolette: “Montreal typical” and officials

Peter Laviolette was inflamed when Jaromir Jagr didn’t draw a penalty, going as far as to accuse officials of playing to the crowd in Montreal. If you see someone react to a Habs-friendly call with “It’s Montreal typical,” then you’ll know where that little meme came from. (Laviolette just seems to rub his hosts the wrong way, as you can see from this altercation with Steve Ott.

The officials made a big impact on the show, in general. One basically admitted to making a bad call, there was a great moment in the referees’ locker room and well-placed recording equipment caught some fascinating behind-the-scenes bits.

4. Injuries

From Steve Eminger’s separated shoulder to Chris Pronger’s season-ending injury and Couturier taking a puck to the head, those pull-back-the-curtain moments were awfully interesting. The most telling footage centered on Claude Giroux’s recovery from a concussion. Cameras caught trainers working with Giroux and a doctor running baseline tests that one could imagine being administered when a cop pulls over a drunk driver.

Giroux’s four-point night showed that he must be feeling OK, although time will tell.

5. Ilya Bryzgalov, again

The Flyers certainly caught the first episode of 24/7, because they really let Ilya Bryzgalov have it during a team breakfast. One player gave him the greeting of “Hey, Universe” (which must be his nickname from now on). Jaromir Jagr teased him and even changed tables on Breezy.

Even with reduced screen time, Bryzgalov provided another priceless gem. The Russian goalie stupefied audiences by saying that his blue-eyed husky is “basically like a hot girl.”

Moments like those make us all a little sad that there are only two episodes left.

Five biggest stars from HBO 24/7 episode one

New York Rangers v Philadelphia Flyers

The first episode of HBO’s 24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the Winter Classic just aired. As expected, there were goose bump moments, great hockey bits and even better glimpses into the lives of hockey players off the ice. (My favorite off-ice moment: Rangers players paying for dinner via “credit card roulette.”)

Expect more fun regarding the first edition in the next day or so, but I wanted to start things off with the five “stars” of the glorious hour one.

1. Ilya Bryzgalov

People who follow the sport religiously probably already knew this, but Breezy is a … character. No doubt about it, the Russian netminder stole the show. He made spacey comments about the universe, spoke about how he was told that Philadelphia is “hell” for goalies and informed us all about tigers and Russian liquor. Expectations were high for his weirdness and he raised the bar.

(In fact, when you consider the tiger mask and the lunar lunacy, I’d say that Bryzgalov is the modern answer to oddball netminder Gilles Gratton.)

2. Artem Anisimov

The major expected “plot points” were covered with aplomb, but Anisimov’s rifle “firing” goal celebration was the most fascinating. First, HBO captured reactions to the penalties he received, including profane responses from Brandon Dubinsky and John Tortorella. (Some would say they also depicted a questionable response from officials.)

That paled in comparison to the in-locker room footage, though. There was Sean Avery’s smirk after discussing it with Anisimov, the general awkwardness brimming from the Russian winger right after it happened, Torts’ angry speech about discipline and then Anisimov’s heartfelt apology. Again, HBO’s fly-on-the-wall coverage exceeded expectations.

source: AP3. John Tortorella

Peter Laviolette gained an early advantage in F-bombs but Torts’ rage (and honesty) ruled the day. It’s difficult to summarize his best moments because just about everything he said was hilarious. HBO proves what many thought: there’s rarely a dull moment with the fiery head coach of the Rangers.

4. The Callahan family

My cold soul wasn’t as moved as most, but it was still pretty special to see Callahan’s family beam with pride over Rangers captain Ryan Callahan. The showstopper came when his 90+ year old grandmother teared up with pride over Cally. The already likeable winger might be practically bullet-proof in fans’ eyes after this documentary series is finished.

5. Injuries

Both teams suffered some bumps and bruises, so getting a behind-the-scenes look at those moments was special. The most dramatic moment wasn’t the bigger impact loss of Claude Giroux or continued absence of Chris Pronger, though.

The most engrossing injury-related moment (in my opinion) was Mike del Zotto’s crash into the boards. You could hear his groans of agony as he fell awkwardly and asked a trainer if he was bleeding. He also provided a portal into the soul of many banged-up hockey players when the 21-year-old defenseman said: “I feel like a 61-year-old man today.”


What else stood out to you about this first great episode? If you need to catch a replay, check out this schedule of showings.

Expect to see this John Tortorella meltdown on HBO

John Tortorella

New York Rangers rookie Carl Hagelin collided with Dallas Stars newbie goalie Richard Bachman, leading to a highly questionable charging penalty on Hagelin. ESPN New York’s Katie Strang reports that Rangers head coach John Tortorella had a simple message for Hagelin when he got back to the bench: “Do it again.”

“I told him to do it again,” Tortorella said. “The goalie charged him. The goalie’s out 20 feet and [Hagelin] is going after the puck. That’s his job. So I said ‘Do it again’.”

OK, Torts said that to Hagelin, but what did he say to the officials who called that penalty? Well, let’s put it this way: if you have children who can read lips, then don’t let them watch this video. (H/T to @agentsmith):

This is probably a convenient time to mention that HBO 24/7 premieres tomorrow