Sunday, December 15, 2013

HBO 24/7: Leafs-Red Wings Episode 1 Recap

HBO's 24/7 Red Wings-Maple Leafs: Road to the NHL Winter Classic airs Saturdays at 
10pm on HBO in the US or on most illegal streaming sites in Canada. It also airs Sundays 
on Sportsnet in Canada at 7:30pm with censors and commercials for some reason.
While 24/7 Red Wings-Maple Leafs: Road to the NHL Winter Classic didn't live up to any of the HBO premieres of the Capitals-Penguins and Flyers-Rangers editions, it was still a solid episode that had its classic behind the scenes moments. As Liev Schreiber narrated, you could sense the premiere would be all about facing adversity as both teams battled injuries and losing streaks. There was a definite difference revealed between the two organizations as Detroit have Mike Babcock and the Maple Leafs actually have personality. Seriously Detroit, step it up.

With that said, let's look at some highlights from Episode 1:

  • A nice little intro with the classic hockey cliche of little kids playing shinny outdoors. Seriously though, who wears shinpads over their pants? Someone buy these kids some hockey socks now, please.
  • Having a player announce the starting lineup with any embellishments they might desire is a pretty good way by Babcock to keep the boys loose before a game. However from the scene we can immediately cross Tomas Tatar off the list of guys who might be stars of this series as his poorly scripted delivery of the lineup was difficult to watch. 
  • Dion Phaneuf has quite the wardrobe closet and even has a little puffy black dog named Pearl. Can't you just picture him cuddling that dog and talking to it in a baby voice? Also, big fistbump to Phaneuf for marrying The Girl Next Door.
  • HBO 24/7 with the biggest knife-twist in their series history as they replay Toronto blowing that 4-1 game seven lead against the Bruins. Thanks for that.  
  • Alfie admitting he's "fucking old" was pretty great. Two years ago we had Jaromir Jagr cracking us up on the show by moving away from Ilya Bryzgalov at dinner so we expect more old man things out of Alfredsson. 
  • Drew Miller is 29-years-old. Drew Miller has grey hair. He's had this going for a few years now and we call bullshit that nobody has told him about Just For Men. Seriously, is he like Benjamin Button or something?
  • It's an HBO staple to have a guy getting worked on in the trainers room and it was Joffrey Lupul this time around. We're glad he didn't get the Ovechkin rubdown from the Pens-Caps series as that was just painful to watch. Whatever those exercises were that he was doing to strengthen the injured muscle worked as he's looked like the Leafs best player since returning to action.
  • Interesting quote from Lupul discussing the Leafs '67 Cup drought and ain't it the truth:
I’d like to be one of the group that brings back the Cup to Toronto, but it has nothing to do with me or the staff here in Toronto. All we can control is how hard we work. It seems like a daunting task when someone says you haven’t won a Cup in 46 years. Well, I haven’t won in three years here so that’s all I can apologize for.
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs Christmas skating party has nothing on the Pittsburgh Penguins skating party in the first edition of HBO 24/7: Road To The Winter Classic. Seriously, no ugly Christmas sweaters? No Santa's little helpers? We did like the idea of having a joint party with their AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, given that half the Leafs started the season on the farm.
  • Phil Kessel sighting! Playing bubble hockey near the buffet table with James van Riemsdyk he opens his mouth to say his first words on HBO 24/7: "You only get so many chances in this game" before scoring. 
  • Mike Babcock seems like a guy you straight up do not want to mess with. He's so stone-faced all the time and looks like an Easter Island head
  • That Red Wings dinner/Pavel Datsyuk lovefest with Danny DeKeyser, Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, Kyle Quincey and Brendan Smith was painful to watch. Loved Helm casually talking about taking a skate to the ear. 
  • Thank you HBO for not mentioning Rob Ford while showing images of Toronto City Hall. 
  • Almond butter instead of peanut butter? The Dallas Eakins Effect.
  • Randy Carlyle vs. The Toaster:
  • It was interesting to see how the Leafs brass prepare for suspension hearings given that this was the Leafs 6th suspension on the season. Just watching replays on an iPad and saying it was the others guy fault probably isn't working for them though.
  • Dion Phaneuf after learning about his suspension and responding to a question with "how do you think I feel?" was terrifying. Thing of nightmares that face is
  • Stephen Weiss returning to Florida is something nobody really cares about because a) he's terrible and b) it's Florida. That must have been one sad highlight reel the Panthers put together for his return.
  • Lupul giving it to Voynov after a high stick was great. "Motherfucker", "piece of shit", and "keep your fucking stick down" would have made you drink in most HBO 24/7 drinking games. Also, if you didn't watch the Kings-Leafs game it's worth noting that Lupul-Voynov fight broke up a 2-on-1 rush by the Kings. Well-timed fight by Lupul, pure stupidity by Voynov in a tie game.
  • Thanks to Randy Carlyle, from now on when referring to get shots for rebounds in any hockey game you have to say "feed the fucking chickens." Playing ministicks with your kid? Tell him to feed the fucking chickens!
  • Todd Bertuzzi drinking by himself was gold. Todd Beertuzzi!

MVP Of The Episode: Joffrey Lupul

He got the most airtime, but no other characters emerged in Episode 1 to deserve being filmed. Obviously HBO loves a good comeback story and Lupul fit the bill this episode, but most people had him pegged to be a star on the show with his personality anyways.

LVP Of The Episode: Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings were like a tough pill to swallow and when your stern-faced coach who barely swore is the star for your team it's not a good sign. We need more Datsyuk in our lives and he didn't even say a word this episode.

Looking At Next Week's Episode:

Neither team won in their two games shown in Episode 1, but that will change as the Leafs took it to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night so we'll finally get to see how one of the teams celebrates. Does Tyler Bozak wait for the team to come into the room before putting on Miley Cyrus? David Clarkson was suspended following a hit to the head in St. Louis so there's another phone call prep by Dave Nonis and Co. Detroit's losing skid continues and they battle more injuries woes as Justin Abdelkader took a Deryk Engelland hit to the head on Saturday. The Red Wings played the Penguins Saturday and the Maple Leafs fly to Pittsburgh for a Monday game so expect half of the next episode to be dedicated to Sidney Crosby. Expect more Mike Babcock next week as the Wings host his former team, the Anaheim Ducks, on Tuesday night. Toronto hosts the Florida Panthers on Tuesday meaning the team from Sunrise will have it's 3rd game filmed by the HBO crew. 


  1. Pretty weak first episode but at least it can only get better from here. The Red Wings were actually how I expected them to me. Dull. Boring. All business. The Leafs had way more personality and it should come out more if they start winning.

  2. I was surprised Phaneuf's scenes weren't full of caveman grunts


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