It took few a days but I finally had a chance to watch the season debut of 24/7 on HBO. The bar is set incredibly high as far as I'm concerned because I think the HBO Sports documentaries are the best by far although I think the 30 for 30 series on ESPN is also done very well.
Its the total package with the editing, writing, soundtrack and narration by Liev Schreiber all coming together to make the show sing. I thoroughly enjoyed the description of the sport of ice hockey in the opening episode this past week. The highlights of a recent meeting between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers with players and coaches miked up was the perfect tone setter for the upcoming Winter Classic.
The NHL has struck gold with Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov who will have anyone watching the show, devoted hockey fan or not, wanting to hear more from him and his fascinating personality. The Flyers goalie stole the show when he talked about what he was told upon signing with Philadelphia, how he was "going to hell" and a "miserable market for goalies." Bryzgalov was rather philosophical when discussing how our solar system was created and how we are but a small dot in the universe.
Thankfully they didn't show highlights of the Flyers come from behind win over the Buffalo Sabres. Philly's home game the next night with in state rival Pittsburgh was the better storyline. I laughed when Scott Harnell called Matt Cooke the dirtiest player in the league. Hartnell may be right but he is far from an angel on the ice. We found out the Flyers like to play "Knock Knock" from rap artist Mac Mania after every win.
As opposed to HBO's Hard Knocks pre season NFL special where they focus on 1 team, the 24/7 series means splitting time between 2 teams and they do a great job of going back and forth between the Flyers and Rangers throughout the show. We did see the Rangers game in Buffalo and a night before the game dinner at the Buffalo Chophouse with Rochester native Ryan Callahan and his parents. Several other teammates were also dining at the Chophouse and the most entertaining part of the night was watching the players play credit card roulette for the bill. Henrik Lundquist and Jeff Woywitka both lost and ended up paying about $2500 each. It was interesting to see John Tortorella and the high praise he had for Callahan, saying the Rangers captain had respect for the game, something Tortorella said too many of today's athletes don't have.
Both Tortorella and Flyers Coach Peter Laviolette did their share of dropping F bombs but nothing(yet) like former Caps coach Bruce Boudreau from last season. The Rangers have hit a bit of a skid since filming began so that might change in episode number 2. All in all a good start to season number 2 as we get access NHL fans don't normally receive.