24/7: Episode 4 Winners and Losers

January, 6, 2012
1/06/12
12:00
AM ET
That's a wrap, folks. One final look yielded more than a few memorable scenes from the Rangers' and Flyers' road to the Winter Classic. And as such, there seem to be more names in the Win and Loss column than usual.

Here's a look at those that came across well -- and those who got metaphorically speared right in the ... uh, you know -- in the final installment of HBO's final episode of "24/7":

Winners

Staals: Not only does Marc Staal make his return to action at the Winter Classic, but Jordan taps in a goal against the Flyers when the Pens play the Flyers. All in a day's work for a family of all-stars.

Peter Laviolette: Perhaps no Winter Classic storyline was bigger than the decision to start Sergei Bobrovsky over Ilya Bryzgalov. Given the ignominious history of the Philly crease, this had to have been a very hard decision considering all of the spotlights pointed directly at the Winter Classic. But the Flyers' coach was concise in his explanation and didn't appear to waver. He didn't show even a fraction of the angst the media felt on his behalf.

Ilya Bryzgalov: This one surprised me. Given the benching, the thermos pic on Twitter and how some of his interview scrum comments read in print, it seemed to me that many believed he was embracing his role as 24/7's resident comedian more than his role as the highest paid player in the Philly clubhouse. But his tone certainly didn't convey that and he seemed genuinely upset to be on the sidelines. If you're a fan of a team, you want your players to feel bad when they're playing poorly and want them aching for a chance at redemption. That's what I saw here.

Claude Giroux:
I promise I'll break away from the Flyers in a second, but it was darn entertaining to hear him begging Henrik Lundqvist to let one slip by, then jabbing Artem Anisimov for his faceoff technique and Brayden Schenn for celebrating his first NHL goal. Oh, and that backhander he scored in the Winter Classic was just silly. If I had to bet, this time next year I think you'll see the "trinity" of Crosby, Ovechkin and Stamkos turned into a foursome with Giroux rounding out the group.

Scott Burnside's right ear: Was it just me, or was the right side of the intrepid ESPN reporter's head visible in every media scrum in Episode 4?

Henrik Lundqvist: Not only are all-stars begging him to let them score, and another sound bite wondering how he saw a particular Winter Classic shot, but his slow-mo shutdown of Danny Briere's penalty shot was just amazing. The concentration and nerves required not to make the first move really came across well.

The Rivalry: "No shaking hands, just get off the ice." One of the last quotes we heard from the ice really summed up the intense feelings these franchises have for one another. It really makes you feel like the best games between the Flyers and Rangers are those yet to come. Particularly, as the playoffs approach. And don't forget about how it will be ratcheted up another notch with next season's realignment.

The Winter Classic: HBO's cameras really do this event justice, as the grand scale truly is cinematic. But it was also the close-ups on the players postgame that showed just how much this game means to all involved. In the press box we were discussing how, at its most basic, the Winter Classic is just an expensive, cold, regular season game with even worse seats than NHL arenas ... and the fans just go crazy for it. When all logic dictates you shouldn't enjoy an experience and you instead find yourself with your jaw on the floor, you know they're doing something right with this event.

And last but not least ...

Mike Rupp: Two goals in the Winter Classic, a nod from John Tortorella in the pregame speech and standing up for a sucker-punched Michael Del Zotto. Is there such thing as a "24/7" hat trick? There is now.

Losers

Technology: Film session, fail.

Evgeni Malkin: Singled out to America by Scott Hartnell as the "ugliest player in the NHL"? Very ouch.

Little Max Talbot: Speared directly in the ... again ... ouch.

Wayne Simmonds: No one questions his mettle on the ice, but his fear of blood was something to behold in the locker room. It's those sort of moments that make this HBO series so entertaining.

The Refs: After the game, Ryan Callahan told reporters that if he was holding the stick when he was whistled for a late third-period penalty, he was holding it with his throat. The replayed incident certainly seemed to back that up. I don't know about you, but if I get something wrapped around my wind pipe, my hands are going to my throat too. I will say the HBO replay of the controversial "covered puck" in the crease sure made it look like the refs got that call right. I'm sure opinions will still vary on that though.

Wedgie-picking teens: Memo to beach goers in Florida, when there is a film crew behind you, it is advisable to wait before adjusting your swim suits. A grateful nation thanks you for your patience.

The Flyers: Instead of coming out and trying to protect their one-goal lead, the cameras caught Philly's top line debating what celebration they would use to mock the Rangers if they beat Lundqvist again. We never did find out what they decided on, being as how they never scored again.

Oh yeah, and one more winner I forgot to mention ...

The Rangers: 3-2. 'Nuff said.

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