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Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Rangers eager for '24/7' premiere

By Katie Strang

Across the NHL community and beyond, remotes will be programmed to Wednesday night's season premiere of HBO's "24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the Winter Classic," and the Rangers will be among the curious viewers tuning in at 10 p.m.

"It'll be cool to see," said Michael Del Zotto. "The last couple of games they probably got some good footage, so it will be nice to see what they do."

Del Zotto said he and fellow defenseman Steve Eminger have a "cute little date" planned to watch the first episode with the team staying at a hotel in St. Louis.

"We'll have some popcorn and cuddle together," Del Zotto joked.

Wednesday's debut will be the first of a four-episode run that chronicles the two teams in the weeks leading up to the 2012 Winter Classic game.

For the past two weeks, crews have descended to document a behind-the-scene look at each club, shooting everything from dressing room jousting, game-day preparations and on-ice antics.

"I think it's going to be fun to see because most fans don't get to see the other side of some of the players here," said Del Zotto, who predicts defenseman Dan Girardi will be the breakout star.

Although many assume Girardi is quiet or understated, his trademark dry, quick wit was captured in his deadpan delivery during the show's 12-minute teaser that ran earlier this month.

"I think he's the first star for sure," Del Zotto said, adding that fans will likely be enamored with Russian-born Artem Anisimov as well. "[Anisimov] will be the biggest surprise, but I think [Girardi] gets the Broadway hat for the HBO."

In all likelihood, coach John Tortorella will be the character most viewers are looking forward to see. The fiery coach, known for his colorful personality and sometimes profane outbursts, also has the potential to steal the show.

He hasn't exactly warmed to the cameras, however.

"It's a pain in the ass, no question. I can't stand it," Tortorella said earlier this week. "They're good guys, I just don’t want people in our locker room, but I know we have to do it. It hasn't affected how we go about our business. I just don't agree with it."

For the most part, players have found the cameras unobtrusive. Those that have been outfitted with microphones during the games have given it little thought, which makes an uncensored look into the on-ice banter even more appealing.

"I know I do a lot of swearing during the game, but I know they can edit that stuff," said Brandon Prust, who was mic'd during the game he fought Philadelphia's Zac Rinaldo four seconds into play. "And I lost the puck a few times that game, so I know I was cursing then."

Del Zotto was also mic'd against Toronto when he took a nasty spill into the end-boards to touch up an icing. Although he did not miss a shift, he was slow to get up and appeared to be in pain.

"I was thinking about it when I got hit, too," he said. "Trying to catch my breath out there and I was dying, so I'm sure that will be good footage for them."

Regardless of what makes it to air and what is scrapped on the cutting room floor, one thing is certain.

Said Tortorella:

"It’s probably going to be one hell of a show when it's all said and done."