Following the eventful premier of “24-7 – Road to the NHL Winter Classic” last week, a premier that featured everything from Ilya Bryzgalov’s now-famous thoughts about the universe and tigers, to an impromptu Ryan Callahan family reunion, the two Atlantic division rivals filled up another sixty minutes with everything involving the teams stretching from December 12 to last Saturday.
But in between that was a lot of fascinating insight, the humor you would expect from the team, and some very heartfelt moments away from the rink as well.
More after the jump.
After the rousing 6-1 win over Florida on December 11, we are treated to a cover of the Foo Fighters’ “My Hero” by Lundqvist, John McEnroe and several of their friends as they prepare for a benefit concert in February. This footage would prove to be significantly more entertaining than any footage from the following night’s 1-0 home loss to Dallas, and HBO thankfully agreed, omitting any visual evidence of that game.
Prior to leaving for their two-game Western road trip, we are shown a glimpse into the life of Dan Girardi, who plays living room hockey with his year-and-a-half old son, Landon, in their Upper West Side apartment before kissing Landon and his wife goodbye. Simply put, even Flyers fans would be hard not to find this scene as adorable.
After their flight to St. Louis (which, by the way, proved that the Rangers’ team charter is significantly nicer than the Flyers’ – plush leather seats, more room, woodwork. If the Rangers’ flight resembled British Airways, the Flyers’ charter was something more along the lines of American Eagle.), Marc Staal is shown wearing the yellow “no-contact” jersey as he skates with the team in the hopes of returning to the lineup soon.
Once the puck is dropped against the Blues, the result of a dreadful first period – arguably the team’s worst of the season – is shown, leading to the expletive-filled rant from John Tortorella that many were likely anticipating. It was well-deserved, as many players seemed to show with their facial expressions, and it seemed to come across well as the players applauded it. Unfortunately, the magic of HBO failed to change the result, a 4-1 Blues victory.
More off-ice footage is shown, such as Brandon Prust and Brian Boyle’s struggles to wake up from a pregame nap. But the most heartwarming scene of the episode is the story of ten-year old Liam Trainer, a cerebral palsy-stricken diehard Rangers fan with a room that resembles a shrine to the team.
Tortorella speaks of spending time and trading weekly phone calls with Trainer, who stays up to watch every Rangers game and clings to an authentic Michael Del Zotto jersey. It is later revealed that the team set Trainer and his family up with tickets to the Winter Classic, of which Tortorella had to beg him to stop saying “thank you” after the tenth time. It’s a true tear-jerker, and likely a story that many Rangers fans had never heard before.
As the Trainer family watches on back in New York, the Rangers travel to take on the Coyotes. Some interesting officiating insight is shown following Mike Rupp’s hip-check on Phoenix’s Raffi Torres, a hit that Torres took exception to but which the officials deemed clean during the intermission, concluding that Torres’ actions disrupted a solid, physical game.
Following that is, of course, Richards’ dramatic game-winner, Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling” blaring throughout the locker room, and a happy flight back to the tri-state area for the next few games.
The Flyers’ side of the episode mostly focuses on their concussion issues of the past week, including Chris Pronger’s season-ending injury, league-leading scorer Claude Giroux’s less-severe concussion, and the scary accidental slapshot to the head taken by rookie Sean Couturier against the Bruins. And, of course, more from Bryzgalov (now nicknamed, “Universe” by his teammates). Bryzgalov discusses topics such as comparisons between huskies and attractive women, and also questions the sanity of shot-blocking defensemen.
The main thing that sticks out in the episode is Tortorella, who’s no-nonsense demeanor, as shown in St. Louis during the first intermission, is countered by the story of his relationship with Trainer. It would seem that the showcase of his all-around personality would make even the most ardent detractors of the coach have to at least think somewhat differently about him after seeing such footage.
Episode three of “24/7 – Flyers/Rangers – Road to the NHL Winter Classic” will air next Wednesday (December 28) at 10 PM Eastern with subsequent airings over the rest of the week.