Giroux: "Ugh, it's super intimidating facing someone so high up the NHL.com faceoff rankings! I hope I can save face!"

While the all-time best episode of HBO’s 24/7 likely remains episode three of Capitals/Penguins, I thought we got one of our better shows to date last night.

Sure, it lacked the “big” moment, like Bryzgalov being a psycho or Ben Lovejoy’s face blowing up on the plane, but the hockey aspect of it was fantastic. We really got to compare and contrast the coaching styles of Peter Laviolette and John Tortorella, and we got some great quotes.

Here are the highlights from last nights episode:

The episode started out like a house on fire.

No tumbling laundry for symbolism, no “hey neat, that goalie plays guitar,” just raw, eff-bomb-laden hockey.

The show started with Laviolette speaking calmly, but you can feel it building: the dude is fired up. Few things are scarier than a crazy person speaking in a somewhat level tone – you just know you’re watching the “before the storm” part, and the anticipation is killer.

“I want to see some guys rip their hearts out of their chests this period.” Whoa. Kay, got it, we’ll try hard man, chill out.

***

Good to know nothing has changed in hockey dressing rooms: if you’re hurt, you still get subtle, playful “you’re good enough to play, hey?” jabs, that are actually a little bit serious.

At no time is the expectation that you play through injury more obvious than when your teammates playful “c’mon, you’re good” comments start to pile up.

Claude Giroux is debating whether or not to return from his concussion, and Jagr leads the way with “you better play tomorrow” – a joke, sure, but the concussion-like pause before Giroux responds is a bit concerning. At least he was sharp enough to respond with “your call, Jags.”

Lavy piles on with the least subtle “holy crap man we need you” comments I’ve heard in quite some time.

Giroux is clearly hesitant to return, so Lavy pushes him in the right direction. “You look great out here.” “You look like a million bucks.”

As a player, are you gonna tell your coach “yeah, but I’d just like to play it safe?” Nope.

I look good? Nice. I’m in tomorrow, sure.

***

Brian Boyle as drunk Buddy the Elf infused a little life in the Rangers ugly sweater party.

I need 24/7 cameras on the 24/7 cameras, I think. I need to know how long they’re allowed to be at that party before the team kicks them out. I’m guessing they were allowed to stay for the first four minutes.

That was the “not really any guests yet, just having our first drinks, show the cameras our outfits for all the hilarity ha ha ha” time, I’m guessing. Levity, indeed.

Fortunately for us, Boyle showed up to the party in the bag, so we did get a little life out of him. “Santaaaaa…. I KNOW HIM!”

***

Hearing loss is a minor inconvenience.

Sean Couturier discussed the puck that hit him behind the ear and casually dismisses a minor symptom – “I can’t really hear out of the left side, but uh… it should come back soon.”

Oooookay then. Moving on.

***

 Steve Ott is the star of the episode, even though we only hear him speak twice.

#1) The hilarity of the exchange between Steve Ott and Claude Giroux was –  for me anyway - the highlight of the night.

After Giroux asks Ott, curiously, ”You’re taking the draw?” Ott responds with a whole speech about being “5th in faceoffs, it’s on NHL.com, check it out.” Ott’s winger is trying to talk to him, but Ott is too busy having fun with Giroux. “You’re pretty good,” he says.

I’m pretty sure Giroux is seriously scared of Ott. “Oh, I didn’t say you were bad!” he backpedals, concerned he offended someone very capable of hurting him. Ott says “I’m gonna win this one right back there,” pointing to his corner.

….Giroux then proceeds to clean him on the draw – I mean, he wins it back flawlessly – then the Flyers score. Awesome turn of events.

#2) At intermission, Peter Laviolette is trying to get to his dressing room, but the Stars are walking down the same tunnel. Ott cuts off the Flyers coach and has this exchange with him:

“Nonono hey: show some respect, you’re gonna let our team go.”

Lavy: “Go f**k yourself.”

Ott: “Hey, that’s my f***ing team here.”

Lavy: “Go f**k yourself.”

Ott: “Show some f***ing class!”

While Ott admittedly had the more interesting things to say, Laviolette still somehow come off looking like a boss.

The only thing he handled better than that in the episode were the questions from reporters. His knowing smile while he denied the incident said more than any words could’ve. “How bout that game, eh!?”

***

Marian Gaborik has somehow become a true New Yorker.

 A large part of me very much wants to live in Manhattan, so I got a great kick out of seeing Marian Gaborik Christmas tree shopping on the street corner by his place in TriBeCa. Dude literally carries his purchase less than a block to his home.

But the best “New Yorker” moment for me was his verbal abuse of other New York drivers, one of the only states where “defensive driving” is about the least safe vehicle operation method if you ever hope to get from A-to-B.

***

Peter Laviolette and John Tortorella’s coaching styles aren’t that different.

The tone of the rooms may be different, but in the end, it’s about one thing with both guys: motivation.

All they want is hard work. They may do some X’s and O’s in their video sessions, or at some off-camera time, but they’re both on totally different sides of the spectrum from Dan Bylsma, who as we saw last year, uses his pre-game speech to talk about positioning and systems.

As I’ve said before, I prefer the Bylsma technique (being told 82 times that “tonight is a huge, rip your heart out for it” would wear on me), but I can’t deny that our two current on-screen coaches make me want to decapitate the closest human.

***

Rupp telling Jody Shelley he’s irrelevant was hurtful, awesome.

This is one reason that we have depressed fighters, and I mean that. I’ve said the same thing many times to guys who could kick my ass – “you don’t matter, you’re not worth my time, the rest of us are actually playing the game, now please go away.”

Shelley stuck with it nicely, but wasn’t able to goad Rupp into making him relevant. That’s a tough job, man.

***

Brad Richards easily had the line of the night.

Tom Sestito had the audacity to chirp the New York Rangers bench during  his 3rd NHL game of the season (16 total!), which is bullsh*t. Worse, he comes with a pathetic Disney line: “I’ll knock every one of you out.”

If you’re his teammate you’re thinking “Oh my god, dude, stop, you’re embarrassing us all.”

Well, Richards puts him in his place: “What, first game in the NHL for you? This is fantasy camp for you. This is fantasy camp for you.”

Hahahahahahaa. It really is. What an honor to play against guys who bring beaks like that.

***

Tortorella and Ryan Callahan had a cool moment.

I assure you, most coaches don’t treat all their players the way Tortorella and Laviolette treat their stars (another old school similarity). Those guys love their big guns.

This was noticeable when Callahan had a question about a rotation for his coach, who listens with a smile, then agrees to go watch the video so they can figure out who’s supposed to switch to cover whom. It was a neat look at their relationship, and the dynamic between the team’s two most important leaders.

And last…

***

I think Ilya Bryzgalov tried to be Ilya Bryzgalov and missed.

Bryz dropped a little monologue about himself on us - it was about all the different masks he wears, as we all do. One with our family, one at work, one at…wherever.

Well Bryz has five. For some reason, he seemed very impressed by that.

….I can see how that stuff could wear on his teammates.

***

Well, there’s only one episode left (sigh) – the Winter Classic. I leave to Philly tonight to cover it, so the blog should be a lot of fun over the next week.

We’ll have pictures, interviews, and hey: maybe I’ll have the distinct pleasure of catching some Bryz rant first hand. Rest assured if I do, it’ll be on here the second I’m able to transcribe it.