If the reception for last week’s episode of “HBO 24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the Winter Classic”was relatively underwhelming, then the finale received rave reviews. To be honest, the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers produced so many storylines in the last week that HBO probably gathered enough material for two jam-packed hours.
The final hour captured the most compelling threads with HBO’s artful mix of great music and stunning cinematography, leaving us all wanting more – just like the 2011 edition. Let’s take a look at how they handled some of the top stories:
The penalty shot
Naturally, the Winter Classic coverage provided many of the show-stopping moments, but the high point revolved around Danny Briere’s penalty shot against Henrik Lundqvist. HBO pulled out all the stops with multiple camera angles, a perfect soundtrack for the moment and then allowed the inherent drama to take over.
Jaromir Jagr’s up-and-down week
To little surprise, Jagr dominated much of the footage. HBO went behind the scenes during his momentous visit to Pittsburgh with Maxime Talbot, who clearly faced an emotional night.
Naturally, it didn’t stop there as cameras captured Jagr during his well-documented Winter Classic injury. They followed him all the way into the trainer’s room, only stopping when Jagr waived them off while getting treatment.
Finally, perhaps the best bit of chatter came regarding Mike Rupp’s mock salute. Some Flyers weren’t even aware it happened, others shared considerable disdain for the gesture while the Rangers were predictably supportive of the celebration. Regardless of where each player stood, it all resulted in a bevy of gut-busting one-liners.
Ilya Bryzgalov cast a large shadow over the final episode, but this time he wasn’t a source of comic relief. Really, he provided a sort of dark comedy, as HBO captured him in some painful moments after an ugly loss and included footage of Bryzgalov spilling the beans about the Winter Classic starter.
As much as HBO spotlighted Bryzgalov’s oddball side, the greatest value came in the evidence that he happens to be a rather sensitive soul. (Note: that might just be a long way of calling him a “goalie,” though.)
From Marc Staal’s comeback to robust critiques of referees, HBO covered all the biggest threads without giving the hour-long episode a congested feel.
Still, many of us will miss the “little” moments the most. What were some of the standout scenes for you? Feel free to share your favorite memories from the final episode and the second edition of HBO’s great doc series, in general.
Finally, if you want to read up on the rest of the series, here are recaps for the other episodes:
Episode 1 review
Episode 2 review
Episode 3 review