One of the most enticing points of last year’s NHL Winter Classic wasn’t the fact that the fourth annual event squared off two of the league’s superstars but rather that HBO gave fans a behind-the-scenes look at the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals as the two prepared for what has become the biggest event of the NHL regular season. It was the first time cameras gave fans a look at what happens before or after the players step on the ice and since it was such a success HBO has decided to bring the groundbreaking series back for a second year
This year’s series – which focuses on one of the league’s biggest rivalries between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers – is titled, “24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the NHL Winter Classic” and once again it will follow the two clubs simultaneously in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 2 event at the home of the Philadelphia Phillies – Citizens Bank Park. It is the second time the Flyers will compete in the event, the first came back in 2010 at Fenway Park against the Boston Bruins and for the Rangers it will be their first appearance.
There will be plenty of story lines surrounding this year’s event and there could be just as much – if not more – to talk about this time around as compared to last year. The Rangers and Flyers rivalry is rich in history and could make for much more of a storyline this time around. The two teams have been paired in the same division, conference or whatever else the NHL has called it since the Flyers joined the NHL as an expansion team in 1967. Each and every decade has helped build the hatred which was really in its prime in the mid-80s and early 90s.
Much like last year, the best episode of the four part series could be the one that focuses on the two team’s Dec. 23 meeting at Madison Square Garden. The on-ice action will be tied into the locker room rants and could make for some good TV. There are plenty of players and coaches who can run their mouth and will surely do so when the cameras are pointed on them. Last year it was Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau dropped the F-bomb every chance he got. This time around, the two coaches can be just as vocal but we expect Rangers coach John Tortorella to blow his lid, something that has gotten him in trouble in the past for high explicit rants to the media.
The first episode begins tonight at 10 p.m. The two following episodes will debut on subsequent Wednesdays – Dec. 21 and Dec. 28 – at the same time as the series premiere and the last one will debut after the Winter Classic on Thursday, Jan. 5 also at 10 p.m.