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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 12/23/2010

24/7 Part 2: Hockey is hard

By Nicole Weissman

After watching Part 1 of this series, I criticized HBO for making every day with the Penguins a party, and every day with the Caps a nightmare. I'm happy to report that Part 2 was significantly more balanced, perhaps because it followed both teams losing games, rather than just one. And with both teams losing, we got to see the truth about life in the NHL: it's hard.

In Part 2, is it easy to be the Penguins? No. Even if you're Malkin and you score twice in your first game back from an injury, you still get a bad review from your coaches for committing a lazy penalty. I thought this was a great illustration of the high standards NHL players are held to.

In Part 2, is it easy to be the Capitals? No. The most social place for the Caps is the training room, where players are laden with ice packs, wincing as trainers prod various parts of their bodies. It's especially not fun to be Matt Hendricks because you look disgusting with your bloody eyeball and however many stitches from an injury you're only kind of sure how you got.

In Part 2, is it easy to be a referee? No. I especially enjoy these snapshots because I know so little about what refs do and how they relate to players and coaches. Who knew that refs encourage players to fight, and facilitate those fights by clearing space and moving the net? I have a feeling they'll be catching a little flack for that.

In Part 2, is it easy to be a coach? I don't think it it's ever easy to be a coach, and that much was clear in Part 1.  Still, I enjoy watching coaches figure out what to say and how to react when their teams are losing shows just how hard it is to be the person or set of people expected to have all the answers.

All that being said, I continue to enjoy that 24/7 gives us insight into why all these people do what they do. They don't just play hockey because they're so good at it -- they play because they genuinely feel, as Brent Johnson expressed, that this is an amazing way to spend their lives. They get to spend every day doing what they love, they get to indulge their superstitions and their traditions, and they get to enjoy the kind of camaraderie that comes with being a part of a team that spends so much time together, including traveling and rooming together. Still, no amount of insight would allow me to understand Mathieu Perreault's "shoe checking" at dinner.

Tune into HBO at 10:00 p.m. next Wednesday for Part 3, which will follow the Caps and Penguins first faceoff of the season, set to take place tonight.

By Nicole Weissman  | December 23, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Capitals, Nicole Weissman  | Tags:  Capitals, Nicole Weissman  
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