December 14, 2011
Much like those mad geniuses at "South Park" edit right down to the wire on their weekly programs, the folks at HBO can tweak their "24/7 Flyers Rangers: Road To the NHL Winter Classic" episodes until around 6:30 p.m. EST on Wednesday for broadcast at 10 p.m. that evening.
1. Go Old School. The Flyers and Rangers rivalry can rightfully be called a "storied" one. The most alumni action we saw in the previous "24/7" was Mario Lemieux skating around in practice. Give us the bloody history of these teams … and a segment or two on Eric Lindros's return to the Flyers wouldn't hurt.
2. Give Us Some Nightlife. While the NHL officials that are vetting each episode probably won't allow it, we'd like to see a little more "24" in "24/7". There are single dudes on these teams. Chances are they might hit a nightspot or two on their off days. We're not asking for "Jersey Shore"-like hi-jinx; just take us behind the velvet ropes into the VIP room with these cats. Especially since one of them plays in Manhattan.
3. John Tortorella, Prisoner. He already indicated in the "24/7" teaser that the cameras irked him. We can think of no better development for HBO than to turn the Rangers coach into a curmudgeonly grump that's always complaining about having to be on the show (even if he secretly adores it). Hell, break the fourth wall and have him address the audience. "Oh, you again? Don't you now I have a $%#% team to coach?!"
4. No Exaggeration. The show was blessed last season to have one team (the Washington Capitals) plummeting while the other team (the Pittsburgh Penguins) was soaring. Both the Rangers and Flyers have been successful during the filming. There might be some temptation to play up their adversity in order to create a false narrative. Resist it.
5. Concussions In The Raw. There's no question that the biggest story in the NHL, besides Dave Bolland emasculating the Sedins, is the number of concussions affecting players from every team and every level of stardom. This series features three significant players that are recovering from concussions: Chris Pronger and Claude Giroux of the Flyers and Marc Staal of the Rangers. While we don't want to see this thing turn into a maudlin "Real Sports" segment, an unflinching look at their relationships with the teams and road back to the NHL would be insightful and timely.
6. Game Coverage, Game Coverage, Game Coverage. The single greatest episode of the previous "24/7" was the one that focused on the regular-season clash between the Capitals and the Penguins before the classic. The thing hummed along like a symphony. The more on-ice action is married to locker room access and coaching rants, the better the program.
7. Have Ilya Bryzgalov Comment on Everything. Seriously, just make him the unofficial Greek chorus of "24/7." Talk about every game the Flyers play in. Have him react to headlines in that morning's paper. Ask him about all the items in a vending machine. The man is the arguably the greatest philosopher of our time, and should be treated as such.