24/7: The Finale

Once the Rangers beat the Flyers in the Winter Classic, this became a totally different episode to watch.  It would have been downright painful if that had been a Flyers win.

That said, as usual, I think Tortorella completely outshined his counterpart.  I’ve always been a Peter Laviolette fan.  I knew he was a great coach the minute the Islanders fired him, because they don’t make any good personnel decisions.  He’s got a Cup to his credit.  And frankly, he seems like a pretty good guy (the episode with Steve Ott, notwithstanding).  But what I got from this whole thing at the coaching level is that we’re pretty damn lucky to have Torts.  He can be prickly with the media, and when his constant line changes aren’t working, he can be damn frustrating, but this illuminated that regardless of what’s going on, he’s got a plan.  And he sticks to it, making adjustments when things have proven to not work with the personnel that he has on the ice.  Laviolette seemed to be shooting in the dark half the time.  While he was confident in his decision to start Bobrovsky over Bryz in the Classic, there was little else that I felt he was sure of.  And he was most assuredly outcoached in the Classic.

A word about Jagr:  I love him.  I’m sorry.  I just love his attitude.  I thought the line of the night last night was when he told someone’s shaky-skating mother (I can’t remember exactly who, I should have written it down) that she skated like her son.  In the third episode, when Giroux called out that scoring 4 points at MSG wasn’t easy, Jags (without missing a beat) said, “I did it.”

The stuff about going in through Wayne Simmonds’ fingernail to make sure that the finger wasn’t broken?  I’m shuddering now just thinking about watching them drill (or whatever) into his fingernail.  Also, he’s that scared of blood?  Isn’t he a hockey player?

On the whole, I found the Rangers stuff to be more interesting (and not just because I’m a fan).  Everyone on the team just seemed to have more depth.  A good portion of the Flyers came off as nice guys, but that’s really it.  Mostly bland beyond that.  Hartnell came off as the jerk that I’ve always thought he was.  The nonsense about Rupp disrespecting Jagr by saluting seemed ridiculous to me.  Hartnell also always seems to pick a fight after every single stoppage.  I always had a similar issue with Avery.  You want to get under someone’s skin between the whistle, go for it.  But every puck stoppage by the goalie isn’t license to hit anyone within 10 feet of him.

And about celebrations after scoring goals:  I say the bigger, the better.  This “act like you’ve been there” stuff has gone on far too long.  It’s a goal in the National Hockey League.  it’s not like you shake a tree and they fall off (ask Peter Laviolette how many he scored.  Tortorella too, for that matter).  It’s not an easy thing to do.  When you do it, Hell yeah, celebrate.  i don’t mean railroad the goalie or one of your opponents, but yeah, celebrate the goal.  No issue at all here with that, whether it’s a salute, or Rupp dropping his drawers and riding his stick around the ice.

Anyway, it was a wildly enjoyable series.  Lots of good locker room stuff, behind the scenes stuff.  And to be perfectly honest, HBO did a hell of a job with the production.  Somehow, every documentary that they produce makes things seem like they have this historical gravity, even though 99% of the footage in each show was from just days before they aired it.  Really, really good work by them.

That’s all I got.