- Pierre LeBrun, NHL
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OK, you know you're a big deal when you're jamming with John McEnroe during your downtime.
Such is the life for Henrik Lundqvist, the stylish Rangers netminder who opened Episode 2 of HBO's "24/7" Wednesday night with a glimpse of his guitar skills.
"He's almost as good as he is at tennis," quips McEnroe.
The highlight of Episode 2, for me, has to be John Tortorella's frenetic rant after the first period of a loss at St. Louis. The Rangers head coach gets it on, steam coming out of his ears:
"I asked you to f------ defend, I've seen you f------ defend before and you're going to do it here. If that's how we're going to battle, we're not going to have a chance to win. Jesus Christ, how much time do we have to talk about it? If that's all the juice we have as far as competing against that team, we will get killed tonight. And we have two periods here. So I've asked you all to buy into how we have to play. If that's it, we're f------- done. Pack it up! I know this f------ team isn't that way. I've seen ya! We have 40 f------ minutes to go. Take each shift at a time and chip away. They are not that good in their end zone. And we know our club, that's the biggest f------ positive is how hard we play. So f------ screw it on straight here. Screw it on and let's be ready to go each shift at a time. Stiffen up here. Everybody. But I'll tell you, if you're not going to be stiff, you're not going to play. I'm warning you all. This is contest here that's a good test for us for where we are right now. ... Let's see what we are against a stiff hockey team. Let's be ready to go here now. C'mon."
Personally, I'd go through a wall for this guy. I guess I always loved the coaches who were yellers when I played.
Although my wife did turn to me when Tortorella was in mid-rant and said, "What is he talking about?"
Then again, she's not a big hockey fan.
If the Tortorella rant was the highlight, the lowlight had to be the way the show dealt with Chris Pronger's bombshell news from last Thursday. The show dropped the ball in my mind. It's understandable that Pronger wasn't available, but what about showing some kind of behind-the-scenes clip where Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette breaks the news to the team after their win over Montreal? Instead, we get a shot of Laviolette's media scrum -- a run-of-the-mill shot. Sorry, big fail there. The point of this show is to bring us in the moment, like we were part of the team. I didn't get that feeling in that particular moment, which was the biggest story of the year for the Flyers.
However, it's important to note that both teams have the right to keep material out of the show on final edit. So if it is indeed the Flyers that didn't want that private chat with the team about Pronger to be included, then you can't blame HBO.
Other moments worth noting:
Loved the shot of Laviolette on the team's charter flight late at night watching more game film. The job never ends for a head coach -- it is literally 24/7.
I thought it was a terrific clip to show the work of the Rangers equipment staff unloading feverishly after getting off the plane before a practice in St. Louis. Those guys work incredibly long hours and fans should know how important they are to the team's success.
Finally, Flyers veteran center Danny Briere gets a voice. He's such a smart guy and he wasn't really a part of the first show. Briere talks about Sean Couturier's amazing maturity for a rookie. Later, the viewer finds out Couturier lives with Briere. Funny scene when one of Briere's children rips Couturier's ball cap off while they play video games and puts it on before declaring, "You have a big head."
Flyers rookie Zac Rinaldo talks about how amazing it is to play on the same team as future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr. "He was on Sega Genesis!" Rinaldo said in a comment that immediately made me feel old since I had a Sega Genesis in university. Oy.
Well, it wouldn't be a show without a few Ilya Bryzgalov moments:
"A Husky [dog] is basically a hot girl," the Flyers' Russian goalie declares at one point.
On goaltending: "I love it, yeah, I love it. ... Sometimes I hate it."
Tortorella on Rangers defenseman Marc Staal, who hasn't played this season because of a concussion: "I just want a yes or no from our trainer when he can play. I'm not sure that's going to come this year. So we just go about our business and play."
Laviolette blows his lid during a 4-3 win over the Canadiens in Montreal, hammering the refs for what he believes are pro-Montreal calls. "That's a disgrace. It's typical. Montreal typical."
Touching moment when the show brings us a 10-year-old Rangers fan with cerebral palsy who has a special relationship with Tortorella. That's the soft side of Tortorella you rarely get to see but it doesn't surprise those who know the coach. Tortorella is a terrific person.
And how about that last-second win for the Rangers in Phoenix? Talk about the script writing itself for HBO.
Episode 2 wasn't perfect, but it still left you wanting more.
10dScott Burnside and Craig Custance