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Five biggest stars from HBO 24/7 episode one

Dec 14, 2011, 11:29 PM EDT

New York Rangers v Philadelphia Flyers Getty Images

The first episode of HBO’s 24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the Winter Classic just aired. As expected, there were goose bump moments, great hockey bits and even better glimpses into the lives of hockey players off the ice. (My favorite off-ice moment: Rangers players paying for dinner via “credit card roulette.”)

Expect more fun regarding the first edition in the next day or so, but I wanted to start things off with the five “stars” of the glorious hour one.

1. Ilya Bryzgalov

People who follow the sport religiously probably already knew this, but Breezy is a … character. No doubt about it, the Russian netminder stole the show. He made spacey comments about the universe, spoke about how he was told that Philadelphia is “hell” for goalies and informed us all about tigers and Russian liquor. Expectations were high for his weirdness and he raised the bar.

(In fact, when you consider the tiger mask and the lunar lunacy, I’d say that Bryzgalov is the modern answer to oddball netminder Gilles Gratton.)

2. Artem Anisimov

The major expected “plot points” were covered with aplomb, but Anisimov’s rifle “firing” goal celebration was the most fascinating. First, HBO captured reactions to the penalties he received, including profane responses from Brandon Dubinsky and John Tortorella. (Some would say they also depicted a questionable response from officials.)

That paled in comparison to the in-locker room footage, though. There was Sean Avery‘s smirk after discussing it with Anisimov, the general awkwardness brimming from the Russian winger right after it happened, Torts’ angry speech about discipline and then Anisimov’s heartfelt apology. Again, HBO’s fly-on-the-wall coverage exceeded expectations.

source: AP3. John Tortorella

Peter Laviolette gained an early advantage in F-bombs but Torts’ rage (and honesty) ruled the day. It’s difficult to summarize his best moments because just about everything he said was hilarious. HBO proves what many thought: there’s rarely a dull moment with the fiery head coach of the Rangers.

4. The Callahan family

My cold soul wasn’t as moved as most, but it was still pretty special to see Callahan’s family beam with pride over Rangers captain Ryan Callahan. The showstopper came when his 90+ year old grandmother teared up with pride over Cally. The already likeable winger might be practically bullet-proof in fans’ eyes after this documentary series is finished.

5. Injuries

Both teams suffered some bumps and bruises, so getting a behind-the-scenes look at those moments was special. The most dramatic moment wasn’t the bigger impact loss of Claude Giroux or continued absence of Chris Pronger, though.

The most engrossing injury-related moment (in my opinion) was Mike del Zotto’s crash into the boards. You could hear his groans of agony as he fell awkwardly and asked a trainer if he was bleeding. He also provided a portal into the soul of many banged-up hockey players when the 21-year-old defenseman said: “I feel like a 61-year-old man today.”

***

What else stood out to you about this first great episode? If you need to catch a replay, check out this schedule of showings.

  1. philsosexy - Dec 15, 2011 at 12:04 AM

    The Russians steal the spotlight again on 24/7 again, last year we had Ovechkin and Semin

    • jpelle82 - Dec 15, 2011 at 10:07 AM

      semin didnt utter a single word in 24/7 he barely made it on camera….what were you watching?

  2. chrisjdonohue - Dec 15, 2011 at 12:05 AM

    Del zotto isnt even 22 yet**

    bryz’s commets were by far the best part of the episode. The universe comments had me tearing up more than Cally’s grandma.

    • James O'Brien - Dec 15, 2011 at 12:35 AM

      Strange, it sounded like he said 26. I even heard it twice that way. Thanks, though, I’ll change it up.

  3. mikebel11 - Dec 15, 2011 at 12:38 AM

    This really doesn’t have anything to do with the story, but why would you classify Bryzgalov’s factual comments about the universe as lunacy?

  4. riles1008 - Dec 15, 2011 at 12:47 AM

    Overall awesome start. Can’t wait for more episodes. Callahan is the man and I’m a Sabres fan. Was at the Saturday night game in Buffalo. Awesome it was on the show although the Sabs couldn’t bury a puck to save their lives. Great piece on your thoughts about the show.

  5. icelovinbrotha215 - Dec 15, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    It is always nice to see that these guys are human. Who would’ve thunk that the Flyers love Mac Miller? Kevin Marshall is quite the dancer hahaha. And Breezy is the man. And his comment about Philly shows how we are viewed by the media. Can’t wait till Wednesday.

  6. markcycy - Dec 15, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    We need to see more of Bryzgalof’s wife she is hot.

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