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'All Access' shows players dealing with rising postseason stress levels

Second episode of Showtime series sees players looking for escape from daily grind

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / Staff Writer

Showtime All Access Ep. 2 Preview

All Access: Quest For The Stanley Cup Ep. 2 Preview

New episodes of All Access: Quest For The Stanley Cup, your exclusive access to the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, debut Fridays at 8pm on Showtime

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After the opening segment, with its shots of cheering crowds and thumping hits, wins being celebrated and goalies being replaced, the latest edition of Showtime Sports' "All Access: Quest for the Stanley Cup," which debuts Friday at 8 p.m. ET, shifts focus for a minute. In fact, it shifts sports entirely.

Because instead of showing Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin on the ice, he's shown on a football field.

It does not look entirely natural.

Or, as he says as he drops a pass, "Hockey hands."

It is the day before Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final. Among the storylines are coach Mike Sullivan's decision to go with goaltender Matt Murray rather than Marc-Andre Fleury, a choice that results in a series-tying win for the Penguins.

As "All Access" takes fans deep inside the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, we see the stress ratcheting up and the pressure increasing. An example is Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson yelling at his teammates on the bench to "Wake up! Wake the [expletive] up!"

As the narration states in the beginning of the episode, "There's something special about this time of year, when everyone, those who play, those who coach, even those who watch with unmatched passion each and every game, take everything to the next level."

For the four teams to reach the conference finals, the Penguins and Senators in the East and the Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks in the West, their next level is reaching the Stanley Cup Final.

By the time the show has ended, one team has punched its ticket. Two teams still are playing for the opportunity. The stress is high and the stakes are real.

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