"Just reloading my weapon, you know?" That was just one of the many golden moments from last night's premiere episode of HBO's Rangers/Flyers 24/7: Road to the NHL Winter Classic. As the cameras took us behind-the-scenes with both clubs, we witnessed different personalities, how each group deals with adversity, and we got a whole lot of insight as to how each coaching staff runs their team. Despite both the Flyersand Rangers being among the Eastern Conference's top teams, HBO did a fantastic job of picking out storylines with New York losing two straight and Philadelphia suffering the loss of their top player to a concussion. Even if you aren't a hockey fan, it was still a captivating story to follow. Most hockey sites are focusing on the episode from a bi-team perspective, so I am going to focus on just the Rangers' half of the highlights. But, of course, I can't possibly not mention Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. But that's for later.
The first golden quote of the night from a member of the Rangers came from, of course, Sean Avery, when he referred to a Philadelphia player as a "f------ loser" in the introduction of the show. We then were treated to two gems from head coach John Tortorella during the first intermission of the Rangers' loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The first was in reference to Leafs forward Phil Kessel: "If you have a chance, finish him. He's a good player. But don't sh-- your pants on him." And the next was in the direction of Brian Boyle in front of the entire locker room: "Brian Boyle, we've done that f------ coverage all f------ year long. You got that f------ mic on you and can't f------ think straight." And at that point you could've officially said that you have witnessed John Tortorella accountability first hand. And give the coach credit, because he did the exact same thing to sniper Marian Gaborik on the bench during the game in Buffalo, when he exclaimed "are you going to stomp on a f------ puck tonight? For f---'s sake!" Gaborik then scored on his next shift.
And then we got an inside look at the incident between Artem Anisimov and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Yes, I'm talking about his 'shooting the rifle' celebration after he scored, which then resulted in a melee that saw him tossed for 16 minutes. First Artie quote occurred when the official was grappling with him: (in Russian accent) "What the f---- are you doing!?" And then when he was told he was being given a penalty: "No, what I do?" But the best part of that entire segment was when Sean Avery and Marian Gaborik walked into the locker room between periods, where Anisimov was already sitting undressed, looked at him and started chuckling.
Episode 1 lived up to all the hype, I can't wait to see what the rest of the season has instore for us.