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Rave reviews from Rangers, Blues for '24/7'

by Louie Korac /
ST. LOUIS -- When St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo got his first glimpse of HBO's "24/7 Flyers-Rangers: Road to the 2012 Winter Classic" on Wednesday night, it was perfect timing. He saw close friend and New York Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto crashing into the boards.

It was human nature for Pietrangelo to call his close friend and pass along some text messages after what he heard next.

"Quite a few," Pietrangelo said of the messages he passed. "I told him at the end of the night I couldn't wait to see it. I know his personality and I couldn't wait to see what it was going to be like. The first thing I see is him crashing into the boards and throwing out a few swear words. That was pretty entertaining."

The general consensus around the locker rooms of the Blues and Rangers, who square off tonight here at Scottrade Center, was that the first episode depicting the lives and daily routines of the players and coaches from the teams into the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 2 was a success.

"We were really excited about it," Rangers center Brian Boyle said. "I don't think I've been that excited for something like that. That was pretty awesome."

Rangers coach John Tortorella was not as forthcoming. He was more focused on his opponent for tonight.

"I'm going to tell you right now, I'm not going to have a running comment on the show," Tortorella said. "We have a game to play here. I respect what (HBO is) doing. We're all-in with them, but I'm not going to get into conversations about it."

Some of the highlighted points of emphasis, from the Rangers' point of view, were forward Artem Anisimov's controversial goal celebration from last week's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning and the aftermath, of him sitting in the locker room as he waits for his teammates to return, and then apologizing after the game.

Teammate Sean Avery was the first to enter the locker room and only smiled. Other teammates had their own remarks.

"When (Avery) came into the room first and it was all quiet, that was funny," Boyle said.

Another memorable moment was the touching scene between captain Ryan Callahan and his 95-year-old grandmother following a game against the Buffalo Sabres, played just 70 miles from Callahan's hometown of Rochester, N.Y.

"The goal was to kind of see it on TV," Boyle said. "Yeah, we do live it every day, but how they portray it, I thought they did a great job. It's going to be something cool to see again down the road."

Many of the Blues players saw it and were impressed with the production.

"HBO does an unbelievable job," Pietrangelo said. "Everybody in here who watches it is a huge fan of it. All of those '24/7's, even with the boxing, they do a tremendous job and it's always fun to watch.

"They know how to balance the family side of things and hockey side of things. People want to see the other side of the players, too, and that's what they're there for. ... A lot of people don't get to see what we're like in the room or away from the rink. I think it's good for the game. People get a different perspective about our game."

Added defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who is friends with Rangers Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh: "I think it's great. For us, we're used to it as players. We know, obviously, the lives of hockey players, but I think it's pretty eye-opening to a lot of people when I talked to friends at home that they're amazed at the type of guys hockey players are, what goes on in the locker room. I enjoy watching 'Hard Knocks,' and that type of stuff, too. To get a glimpse into our world, I think people enjoy it. HBO does a great job of it."

With cameras following the Rangers around for three more episodes, the Blues weren't looking for the bright lights themselves. They're just looking to be momentary spoilers.

"I'm not really a big camera guy, but hopefully we can kind of ruin the show for them for a game," said Blues forward T.J. Oshie. "But it was awesome. It's great for the game. I think the Winter Classic's really great for the NHL. It gives you an inside look at kind of how close of a family our teams are and how fun it is to play hockey in the NHL."
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