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Stanley Cup spotlighted in first 'All Access' episode

Showtime series gives viewers inside look at four conference finalists, what they're playing for

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

Before you meet the characters, you see what they're playing for.

You see Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby after he won the Stanley Cup for the first time, New York Rangers center Mark Messier at a loss for words, Anaheim Ducks forward Teemu Selanne embracing his wife and Dallas Stars center Mike Modano, head in hand, crying. You see Edmonton Oilers goaltender Bill Ranford smiling and sighing because he didn't know what else to do, Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ray Bourque pointing at the Stanley Cup as it moved swiftly past him and Oilers center Wayne Gretzky moments after he became a champion in the NHL for the first time.

And that's just the first 90 seconds of the first episode of Showtime Sports' "All Access: Quest For the Stanley Cup," the behind-the-scenes series that will take viewers inside the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, from the conference finals through the Stanley Cup Final.

The first episode, which debuted Friday, starts with images of the Penguins' Stanley Cup parade last year, another sign of what this is all about.

It moves quickly from Western Pennsylvania's City of Champions north to Ottawa, south to Nashville and west to Anaheim, providing an introduction of the four cities still playing in the playoffs, featuring the Penguins, Ottawa Senators, Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks.

The first stop on the tour was Anaheim for Game 1 of the Western Conference Final at Honda Center, where you saw Ducks forward Corey Perry's pregame routine and heard him talking about how winning Game 7 of the second round was like ripping the monkey off of the backs of the Anaheim players who had been around to lose Game 7s in each of the previous four seasons.

The action went on the ice, where you were treated to what may have been the first of many unpleasantries between Predators center Ryan Johansen and Ducks center Ryan Kesler as they were about to take a faceoff against each other.

Johansen called Kesler "a loser," and told him "nobody likes you."

"Yeah, good one," Kesler responded. You could almost hear him laughing.

You were taken inside the dressing rooms prior to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final in Pittsburgh, where Senators coach Guy Boucher was shown reminding his team they were ready and injured Penguins defenseman Kris Letang was shown reading the starting lineup.

Back in the dressing rooms after the first period, you see Penguins coach Mike Sullivan telling his team being down 1-0 was a wakeup call. On the bench in the second period, Boucher implores his team to create "rebounds and chaos."

Penguins center Evgeni Malkin scored after Sullivan told his team not to get frustrated, but to get determined. Senators forward Bobby Ryan won it in overtime and Ottawa celebrated by Boucher telling them to "appreciate the moment, but let's stay humble."

Before getting to Honda Center for Game 2, there's a trip through the Predators hotel with defenseman P.K. Subban, resplendent in his sharp, colorful suit and his stylish hat. Subban should be a recurring character on this show.

On the ice, there's a conversation between Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf and referee Kevin Pollock, who's trying to explain a penalty call. Getzlaf was having none of it, but it was telling to see how an official speaks to a respected captain.

You were privy to a similarly revealing conversation in Game 3 between Predators coach Peter Laviolette and referee Wes McCauley, who was trying to explain his reasoning for calling a goalie interference penalty on Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm.

The cross between country music and hockey was on display the first time the show takes viewers to Nashville, where honky tonk bars line Broadway leading up to Bridgestone Arena, the Predators' home that has housed the best show in town this spring.

The Stanley Cup Final matchup will be set by the time the second episode of Showtime's All Access series airs next Friday. You'll see how it all played out.

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