NEW YORK | The Washington Capitals know what it’s like to see opponents up close and very personal thanks to last year’s edition of HBO’s “24/7.” They saw Pittsburgh Penguins players pushing teammates’ hotel furniture into the hallways and got a peek at the life of Dan Bylsma.
Meanwhile, the Penguins got to see inside Scott Hannan’s transition from Colorado and the stories and life behind a losing streak.
This year, it’s the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers getting that look – and while most players admitted they haven’t watched both episodes all the way through, what they have seen has been worth the time. Getting to know opponents beyond hockey doesn’t turn down the temperature on this rivalry despite more human interest.
“I think you – I don’t know if appreciate’s the word – you get to see how some of their guys act,” Flyers winger Scott Hartnell said. “I think in the hockey world as much as you don’t like a team and you want to beat them and hit them as hard as you can and all that kind of stuff, they’re just like guys on our team – they’re good guys, [they have] a good sense of humor and all that stuff.”
Friday night at Madison Square Garden the Flyers and Rangers play for the first time since “24/7” began airing. That’s not a coincidence, with the Winter Classic coming up in a little over a week; the Caps and Penguins played Dec. 23 last year, too.
Hartnell noted “there will be a lot of chatter,” which might even include jokes from the show for players who were paying attention. But most guys in the Rangers and Flyers’ locker rooms said it doesn’t affect much about how they approach this game and even the upcoming Winter Classic.
“I think we’re living it ourselves,” New York forward Erik Christensen said. “Yeah, you’re probably interested to see what guys are like off the ice. I think it’s mostly obviously just for fans, who only see us on the ice and only see us with our helmets on and just kind of what it’s like to go through a day-to-day of just being a professional hockey player.”
Jody Shelley – one of three enforcers in Philadelphia’s lineup Friday night along with Tom Sestito and Zac Rinaldo – has a unique perspective because he played with the Rangers in 2009-10.
“I know a few of those guys,” Shelley said. “It’s different when you know them as people.”
But the games won’t be any different.
Said Hartnell: “We’re going to be hitting them, skating, all that kind of stuff and obviously trying to win the game.”