“We are not a conservative team, we are a let’s fucking giddy up and go type of team.”
And with that, the season of 24/7 Flyers-Rangers is underway. Lavs F-bomb counter at 1.
Moments later, we’re treated to another Laviolette gem in the opening montage:
“Play fucking hard. Play for each other, support each other. Come back to the bench fucking dripping tired with fucking sweat and exhaustion. Put your foot on the fucking gas.”
Lavs F-bomb counter: 5.
The first full segment focuses on the Rangers, their – surprisingly nice – Madison Square Garden accommodations and Sean Avery looking like he gives a shit. Bonus points for Henrik Lundqvist letting in three softies to start the show. His John Lennon jacket is proud.
To Philadelphia… er, Voorhees.
We’re greeted by an upbeat piano tune as the orange and black striped walls of the Flyers SkateZone lead us into a shot of a deceptively large-gutted Laviolette. Apparently, HBO has decided on Muppets music for the Flyers practice montages. Incredibly, it fits Scott Hartnell just perfectly.
Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long for our first Paul Holmgren sighting: What are these fucking cameras doing here?! Didn’t anyone tell you this was sacred ground?
I kid. Homer came across fairly well.
Next, we’re introduced to the newcomers, including Jarormir Jagr* and Ilya Bryzgalov.
*Narrater Liev Schreiber – whose scenes playing a fucking lunatic in the Manchurian Candidate I can’t get out of my head – has clearly been saying the name "Jaromir" in front of a dimly lit mirror all week long– Yarr-o-mihr.
Bryzgalov is the early star, as seen here. Producers focused on his quirky nature, with Lavs perfectly setting up Bryz’s speech about the universe. The full text, for your edification:
"Right now, I’m very into the universe. You know, like how it was created. You know, like, what is it? You know, solar system is so humungous big, right? But, if you see our solar system and our galaxy on the side, you know, like, and you see it and it was so small. You couldn’t even see it, our galaxy is like huge, but if you see the big picture, our galaxy is like small, tiny, like, dot in the universe, like. You think, we have some problems here on the earth we worry about, compared to, like… nothing. Just be happy. Don’t worry, be happy right now."
That is followed by the obligatory melodramatic Chris Pronger scenes, which include staged shots of lonely equipment hanging in an empty locker room.
Back to NY, where Henrik Lundqvist’s tight pants, Lennon jacket and teammates take a few inner-city youths to see the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall in an “exotic limo.” It’s a move that says, “see, kids, when you’re famous hockey players, you don’t go just to see the Rockettes in a limo… you put them in the back with you.”
This would be the first of two (Gary Bettman mandated?) inner-city kid-hockey player bonding moments (as you might imagine, Wayne Simmonds was coincidentally chosen for the second one). Still, though, it was a touching scene that led right into…
Sean Avery modeling.
Somewhere, Schreiber just tossed a script at a producer. I thought this was hockey?! HBO? Not Bravo. You better get out of here with this modeling bullshit. I was in X-Men, dammit!
The scene was saved, partially, thanks to watching Avery reminisce about being sent down to the minors earlier in the season.
Back to Philly, where the storyline turns to former Penguins Max Talbot and Yarr-o-mihr Jagr. Talbot greets his former coach, Dan Bylsma, one of the stars of last season.
Jagr loves Philly: “I never thought I’d like it so much. I picked Philly just for the hockey.”
That quote is followed by our first shots of your typical Flyers fan… a Czech dude screaming nothings into the camera. Dead Joey Vento is seething.
Lavs pre-game speech:
“Just a couple reminders here– you either put it wide with speed and put it behind the net, or you put it behind them and you grind the piss out of this team, because that’s the strength of ours. Play to our strengths and against their weakness. Let’s make sure we have a great start, a great first shift. Have a great game. A must-win here. Let’s kick some ass.”
I just punched a candle.
Matt Cooke reacts to Hartnell on the ice: “Hartnell, you fucking piece of shit.”
Hartnell: “You’re the dirtiest player in the league, bud. Great job.”
Intermission speech brings the Lavs F-bomb counter up to 7, trending toward the under for the evening, but it will be close.
Flyers win and here comes the highlight: the Flyers’ post-game anthem is… Mac Miller’s Knock Knock.
Ladies and gentlemen, Dry Island.
Back to NY, where the HBO tries to focus on Brad Richards’ rematch with his former team, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Unfortunately, Richards is terribly uninteresting, so that went away rather quickly. Also, it turns out Tortorella loves mock turtlenecks. Who knew?
This is the game where Artem Anisimov becomes our second unintentionally hilarious Russian of the night. He scored a goal and turned his stick into a shotgun, firing it toward the Lightning goalie. He would later receive an approving grin from Avery and explain it as a move he learned from “the guy who scored all the goals in Russia.”
It’s Friday morning in Philadelphia, and Lavs is walking into his microscopic office at the SkateZone. Seriously, it’s a closet. Craig Berube plays his sounding board as Lavs explains – not to the surprise of Chief – his intent to play… the hot goalie.
Berube is bringing nothing on this Friday. Their convo:
“I like Bryz in there tomorrow.”
“Keep him going.”
- nods head -
“Is that four in row for him?”
“I thought Jags was really good for back-to-back.”
“He was strong.”
Thanks, Chief. We’ll look forward to more on the bonus content of the DVD.
Lavs takes his unflattering sweater to the locker room to remind the team of the Christmas party, which is mandatory, according to the “Big Boss.” Presumably Snider.
Sweater aside, Lavs is coming across as very impressive thus far.
Obligatory shot of Wayne Simmonds driving his black Infinity through the hood to help Snider open his ice rink for the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. Thankfully, HBO restrained themselves and didn’t add ground effects in post-production.
Rangers head to Buffalo– lots of shots of Buffalo native Ryan Callahan and his family.
Back to Philly for Saturday night’s game against the Lightning. Get to see a little behind the scenes, um, scenes following Giroux’s concussion. He appeared fine going back to and in the locker room, but cameras weren’t allowed to follow him in for testing. JVR checks with Giroux after the game, G says he’s OK.
Flyers beat writer Randy Miller is envious of the access:
HBO provides a lot more on Giroux than rest of us covering #Flyers got on Giroux concussion … access is a beautiful thing
— Randy Miller (@RandyJMiller) December 15, 2011
The next morning, Giroux is laying on the massage table. Bryz jokes about what a bad day it was for Giroux, likely referring to both the car accident and concussion.
Lavs stops by to check on G, who said he feels no better. We’re later treated to some more shots of Giroux slaying his concussion test.
Philly Sports Daily beat writer Ryan Bright:
Claude Giroux was connecting the hell out of those concussion dots. I expect full recovery.
— Ryan Bright (@philabright) December 15, 2011
HBO scrambled to work the concussion storyline in, and mentioned the update from Tuesday that said Giroux was out indefinitely. Nice work there.
Bryz on killing tigers:
Good God, he’s going to get an Emmy.
They finish the Flyers portion of the storyline with scenes from the team’s Christmas party on Sunday and interviews from the train ride to D.C.. We’ll leave you with the return of Max Talbot and ugly sweaters:
Lavs F-bomb counter: 7.
Videos copyright of HBO via FlyersinHD on YouTube