Rangers/Flyers 24/7 Episode Three: Ugly Sweaters, Trees and Hockey

(Courtesy of HBO)

On the heels of the first two episodes of “24-7 – Road to the NHL Winter Classic”, the penultimate episode included everything from footage of the highly anticipated New York Ranges’ Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, to Marian Gaborik’s adventures in buying a Christmas Tree in TriBeCa, all the way to a visit with Brian Boyle‘s extremely large family in Massachusetts.

But for those watching for the game footage, the episode delivered in a big way, most notably dedicating a significant portion of the hour to the Rangers’ 4-2 win over the Flyers last Friday.

More about the third episode of 24/7 can be seen after the jump.

Episode three opens up with an expletive-filled rant by Flyers’ head coach Peter Laviolette following a disappointing period in Colorado. Apparently Laviolette took note of John Tortorella’s rant in St. Louis the previous week, but unfortunately for Laviolette, the rant produced similar results as the Flyers fell to the Avalanche in the shootout.

From there, the Rangers’ portion of the show begins, focusing on the team’s annual skate party at Bryant Park (including more Landon Girardi!), along with footage of what many Rangers fans had anticipated for the last week –  the team’s Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, hosted by Brad Richards. And the footage did not disappoint.

We see Brandon Dubinsky playing the role of Santa Claus, Boyle dressed as Will Ferrell’s “Buddy” character from Elf, and of course a multitude of horrifically amazing Christmas sweaters, including one from Michael Del Zotto in which no words can be possibly added.

Later on, we are treated to Gaborik’s purchase of a Christmas tree outside a Whole Foods in TriBeCa. A humorous scene shows Gaborik to be not unlike many other of his fellow New Yorkers as he picks up the tree and carries it back to his apartment on his own. As someone in a similar position who used a shopping cart to bring a tree home, you could not help but feel somewhat less masculine after the scene.

In the days leading up to the December 23 preview of the Winter Classic, the Flyers get back on track in Dallas with a big win over the Stars thanks to a four-point effort by Claude Giroux. Back in the New York area, the Rangers score wins over the Devils in Newark (with the several thousand Rangers fans in attendance at the Prudential Center coming across even louder in stereo on HBO) and then at home over the Islanders the night before facing off at The Garden with Philadelphia.

When watching the Flyers heap praise on the Rangers, from Middletown, NJ native James van Riemsdyk admitting that he grew up a Blueshirts fan to Jaromir Jagr’s kind words about his time in New York to Laviolette’s praise of Tortorella’s coaching style, it could easily make it difficult for Rangers fans to try and remember that they’re supposed to despise the Flyers.

That is, until the game footage is shown.

We are treated to Flyers’ winger Tom Sestito, playing in just his third game with Philadelphia and 16th overall in the NHL, talking smack to Richards, who responds with the sharp-tongued wit you’d expect from a veteran such as himself, along with Mike Rupp’s response to Jody Shelley’s expletive-filled chirping by questioning Shelley’s relevance and outcome in the final score of the game. The scenes also echo the vast difference in the taunting styles of both the Rangers and Flyers.

The Flyers attempt to rattle Henrik Lundqvist with some personal smack talk as well, but it fails to make a difference. And after well-timed deflection goals by Derek Stepan and Ruslan Fedotenko, the Rangers are well on their way to the 4-2 victory – their fourth in a row overall, as well as their fourth straight over Philadelphia.

The footage from the game, which spans between 10-15 minutes of the hour-long episode, is shot exquisitely and mirrors the outstanding third episode of last season’s program in which the Penguins and Capitals squared off on the same December 23 date.

It also provides an extremely fascinating look into the job of Mike Murphy, who runs the league command center in Toronto that determines the rulings on every goal around the league. We are shown as Murphy reviews Fedotenko’s deflection goal to determine if his stick was over the crossbar. Within seconds, the final ruling goes from Toronto to New York, where the referee announces to the crowd that the call on the ice stands.

As the episode comes to an end, it’s reminded that the next step for these teams is the actual game themselves. And while it doesn’t quite match the perfection of last year’s episode three finale, with the strains of “The Funeral” by Band of Horses in the background, the montage is pulled off very well.

It also serves as a realization for someone actually lucky enough to be attending the game, or even just someone who has anticipated it since it was announced, that this event, which has been talked about since last May, is now just less than a week away.

Tags: Brad Richards Brandon Dubinsky Brian Boyle HBO 24/7 Henrik Lundqvist James Van Riemsdyk Jody Shelley Marian Gaborik Michael Del Zotto Mike Rupp Ruslan Fedotenko Tom Sestito Winter Classic

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