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Posted at 12:06 AM ET, 01/ 6/2011

HBO concludes Caps-Penguins 24/7

By Dan Steinberg


If I'm being honest, parts of the ending of HBO's incredible Caps-Penguins 24/7 series were a bit overwrought for me. Especially the whole "hockey won't hold still for a portrait" bit. I mean, I'm sure that's true enough, but neither will a grocery store, or a steel mill, or an elementary school, or a television network, or a newspaper.

(Ok, fine, maybe a newspaper will hold still for a portrait, but you know what I mean.)

But the voice over during the final scene of the final episode of the four-part show went on to say that hockey conveys "a passion invulnerable to cynicism," and I can't really argue with that. That, in fact, is what makes the HBO stuff so great -- it's all-access, and it's comfortable, and it's honest, and so it's not phony. It is -- or at least it seems to be -- as real as sports can get.

Press conferences are cynical. Media gaggles are cynical. Injury reports are cynical. "Said in a press release" quotes are cynical. Sports columns and sports blogs are, often, cynical.

But Alex Ovechkin striding into the dressing room before his biggest game of the season and yelling "[Bleep] this [Bleeps]burgh team?" That isn't cynical. Bruce Boudreau telling his team, "this is an exciting event, but it's two [bleeping] points that we're gonna take off these [bleeps] here" isn't cynical. And Dan Bylsma standing in front of his team after the Penguins lost the Winter Classic, pounding his fist into his hand and saying it "sucks losing, wanted to [bleeping] win that one," well, that's not cynical either.

And once you get past the highlights and watch the actual game, it all becomes almost gorgeous, just visually stunning. Late in the episode, there was one shot of Alex Ovechkin steamrolling his way the length of the ice, and it was sort of beautiful, which is not a word I usually ascribe to Alex Ovechkin. He was just moving in a way not many humans can move, and watching it wasn't unlike looking at art or listening to music.

That said, you could also focus on the in-game whines -- and, if you were trying to appeal to Caps fans, you could focus entirely on the Penguins' in-game whines -- and any soliloquies about the aesthetic purity of the competition get shoveled right into the dirty snow and the melting slushy ice.

"[Bleeping] penalty shot!" Sidney Crosby requested in the first period. "I watch [bleeping] 80 games on TV this year and that's a penalty shot every time. By the way, that was a [bleeping] hook on the way in, too."

"Seven crosschecks in the back or 10, how many is allowed?" Matt Cooke asked an official. "I got seven, I just wondered how many is allowed?"

"[Bleeping] high stick!" Cooke said later.

"Great call!" Max Talbot said on his way to the penalty box. "Stick on puck all the way."

"I swear to God, slash me again, I'll take your teeth out Nicky," Cooke told Nicklas Backstrom, before turning to officials. "He [bleeping] two-handed me there. You're not gonna call it, you're not gonna call it either way."

But really, in a way, that's being honest, too. Boudreau calling his players [bleep]bums" is being honest. (And "[bleep]bums" is a bleeping great term.) Him saying "let's just get to [bleeping] Pittsburgh and see what happens" is being honest. And him urging his team to stand its ground and wait for the customary post-game handshakes was being honest, too.

"Make them come to us, we'll sit here," the coach screamed. "[Bleep] 'em all, let's go," he finally said, as the Penguins exited. "[Bleep] them, eh?"

"Not the Cup, but it feels pretty [bleeping] good," Boudreau later said in the dressing room.

And in that context, the Louis Vuitton eye black pattern, the Ultimate Warrior face paint, the Coronas and Bud Lights, the road stunts and dressing room hijinks don't really seem like childish props. They just seem like hockey people being hockey people, without artifice. "A passion invulnerable to cynicism," if you will.

Either way, that was some good television. Here's how Twins pitcher Tony Slama put it on Twitter: "Hbo 24/7 on caps vs penguins game turned me from a passive hockey fan into practically Canadian."








By Dan Steinberg  | January 6, 2011; 12:06 AM ET
Categories:  Caps, Media  
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Comments

All the way around a great series and episode 4 really delivered. Hockey really comes through on the 24/7 program...much better than football, IMO...and it really provides a genuine look at what these players are like and how the action ebbs and flows.

One thing that really struck me tonight, even more than the first 3 episodes, was how often the F-bomb gets used, even by the referees, and that there is a lot of in-game discussion between the players and officials. Can you name another sport where this would be even mildly tolerated? Certainly not in the NBA where even a questioning look will draw a technical.

I especially liked hearing Ovechkin talking to the referee after his goal was waved off and the referee explaining that it was either going to be incidental contact or an interference penalty which quieted Ovechkin down pretty quickly. You used the word 'honest' and I was thinking to myself that this is pretty genuine and not a bunch of athletes playing up to the cameras on a reality show. Now if we can just get the PP back to a semblance of the past two season and Ovechkin scoring every other game or so we should be just fine.

Posted by: AlligatorArms | January 6, 2011 1:00 AM | Report abuse

I work the midnight shift. I haven't seen it yet BUT KNOW it will be delish!!! Every team has a player of two who whine. But the Whinge-uins are really turribal! Crosby is arguable the best player in hockey on one of the best teams. He whines about every hit real or imagined! When the last episode aired, all I heard from Pitts coaches was, "Hit Green" "Make him pay". I saw several boarding shots to the head and face! Not a whimper, just a goal and almost a game winning goal. I'll take this team over them pretty boys everyday.

Posted by: fullbagg | January 6, 2011 2:20 AM | Report abuse

The ending with the voiceover and all the shots actually gave me goosebumps.

Posted by: JulzDC | January 6, 2011 6:50 AM | Report abuse

"...parts of the ending of HBO's incredible Caps-Penguins 24/7 series were a bit overwrought FOR me"

Dude.. something can't be "overwrought" FOR you. YOU can be "overwrought", I can be "overwrought".

its ok, your just a sports blogger. All is forgiven..

Posted by: ThadC | January 6, 2011 7:41 AM | Report abuse

SHUT UP COOKIE

Posted by: JohnnyBlades | January 6, 2011 8:00 AM | Report abuse

ok shows over lets get to work on fixing a couple of issues . first issue Semen needs to go no if an's or buts about it . Heres a guy 6'2 218 lbs who will not go to the crease f**King s***y but we have a guy MP who is 5'8 185 who will go to the crease dig out the puck and get hammered while doin so and this Kat has a broken nose ? explain this ?

and secondly the great eight is no so fing great is he ? no he is not he just a blow hard whos game sucks .

I love my caps tho

Posted by: doggydodo | January 6, 2011 8:02 AM | Report abuse

If YOU'RE going to correct people's grammar and/or word usage at least proofread your own stuff. Lest ye fall victim to a "yourfail" on the internet.

Posted by: GFisher1 | January 6, 2011 8:11 AM | Report abuse

...especially since parts of a television show can indeed be overwrought [for one's taste]

Posted by: JohnnyBlades | January 6, 2011 8:16 AM | Report abuse

...especially since parts of a television show can indeed be overwrought [for one's taste]

Posted by: JohnnyBlades | January 6, 2011 8:16 AM | Report abuse

The show is well done. The narrator is great. Much more enjoyable watching this then the actual game where all they talked about was the f'ing weather!

I would have liked to see for the shows conclusion what it meant to fans of both teams. Many people paid $1,000's for the whole weekend and this was probably their largest hockey weekend expenditure.

Posted by: PensRule | January 6, 2011 8:16 AM | Report abuse

As a Caps fan, the only thing I can say is, they have a ring, my Caps don't. Nothing else matters. C-A-P-S...caps,caps,caps

Posted by: dougw3 | January 6, 2011 8:25 AM | Report abuse

I hope HBO, or the NHL for that matter, continues giving the NHL the NFL Film treatment.

It never ceases to amaze me that the NHL gets the short end of the stick when it comes to television. In the US, the TV network airs "The Game of the Week," that starts halfway through the season.

Canada has "Hockey Night," that runs multiple times a week, with Don Cherry, no less!

Could we at least get our camera work on the same level as the Canadians?

If the networks really wanted to give it a go, to get the championship ratings for the playoffs, they would be wise to look to the Canadians.


Posted by: thomp | January 6, 2011 8:40 AM | Report abuse

The series is so good, I hope HBO makes it available on Blu Ray soon. Anyone hear if HBO is going to do this?

Posted by: AnnandaleAnnie | January 6, 2011 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Anybody know how much it would take to buy out kuznetsov's contract?

Posted by: chatton | January 6, 2011 9:39 AM | Report abuse

It was a great series. Some thoughts on the final episode:

1) The jazzed up interpretation of Star Spangled Banner during the scenes with the players coming through the tunnel and jumping on the ice was great and I did yell "Red" at the TV during the appropriate time. Thought it was interesting HBO choose this tune.

2) Could have used more Caps fan shots. Feel like it was mostly Pens fans and since it was approx. 45/55 in the stands it would have been nice to show just how well rep'd Caps fans were. Selfishly, I wanted to see the accapella fist-pumping version of our section's "Beat Dat Beat" performance.

3) Whining - I didn't really realize the extent until reading Dan's piece. It is what it is. I think the officials and the players have that relationship in a lot of sports. Getting into the officials ear is part of the game if it can provide an advantage.

4) Crosby - who is the real guy? Is it the guy off the ice, who is somewhat tollerable, or is it the little bleep on the ice who I can't stand?

5) Fleury - his taunts with the French Canadian accent during the shootout drill at the end of practice were great

6) "Drop the bleeping puck, Pierre!"

7) That Erskine/Rupp fight is great. I realize no real shots were landed, but the speed with which Erskine popped up after being knocked down and took the offensive was awesome. I was on other opposite side of the stadium when it happened and I saw him fall and felt deflated, but he shot right back up and swung/jabbed at Rupp until he submitted

8) In the final scene montage when the Rangers player (not sure who) falls onto Hendricks after walloping him and Hendricks says "Good job, buddy" and the Rangers replied "you too." Contrast that with the Hendricks/Downie fight Tue night -- the words being exchanged were nowhere near to "good job"

Great stuff -- when can I buy the box set with 72 hours of deleted scenes?

Posted by: mm_silverspring | January 6, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

@chatton,

Kuz will be a good player, but he is not ready for the physicality of the NHL (or the AHL for that matter).

Posted by: pstenigma | January 6, 2011 10:40 AM | Report abuse

The "good job buddy" exchange was between Dubinsky and Ovechkin - also one of my favorite moments in the series.

Fantastic series overall. I absolutely loved everything with the refs. That one ref who Cooke kept pestering was great. Sarcastically responding, "I missed seven crosscheck?! I missed seven crosschecks... I suck."

Posted by: MillBurray | January 6, 2011 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I thought the music selections were intriguing. An excerpt from Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" was the background to a Pens game. And as someone already observed, there was that Mannheim Steamroller-esque version of the US national anthem.

A nonmusical highpoint was the scene when the Pens skated off while the Caps were in line for the handshake. I knew that had happened though not from NBC's coverage. Supposedly, Crosby said later that he did not know about the "tradition." O rly? Looked damn intentional to me. So Crosby's status as a whiny sore loser remains intact.

Posted by: pirate1 | January 6, 2011 11:03 AM | Report abuse

When is the Washington Post going to get over itself?

Just put in the foul language. We can take it.

The kids will be fine.

Otherwise, great job...

Posted by: CF11555 | January 6, 2011 11:38 AM | Report abuse

8) In the final scene montage when the Rangers player (not sure who) falls onto Hendricks after walloping him and Hendricks says "Good job, buddy" and the Rangers replied "you too." Contrast that with the Hendricks/Downie fight Tue night -- the words being exchanged were nowhere near to "good job"


Posted by: mm_silverspring | January 6, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

It wasn't the Hendrick fight, it was the Ovechkin/Dubinsky fight

Posted by: ajian1 | January 6, 2011 11:54 AM | Report abuse

A nonmusical highpoint was the scene when the Pens skated off while the Caps were in line for the handshake. I knew that had happened though not from NBC's coverage. Supposedly, Crosby said later that he did not know about the "tradition." O rly? Looked damn intentional to me. So Crosby's status as a whiny sore loser remains intact.
Posted by: pirate1
---------------
A tradition from peewee hockey to the pros - and Cosby didn't know about it. Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia must be so proud of THAT remark.

Posted by: pjohn2 | January 6, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse

If we are talking honestly -

Crosby > Ovechkin

honestly.

Posted by: popopo | January 6, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Crosby conveniently forgets about the handshake because he is not exactly the player that Canada promotes him to be. He is very self-centered. When the Penguins won the Cup in 2009, Crosby was so busy celebrating on the ice and looking into the crowd, he forgot to lead his team in the handshake line. He ended up being almost last in line. Not bad for the captain of the Stanley Cup champions to not even get to shake hands with the captain of the losing team.

Oh, and did Crosby forget the fact that there was a handshake line the last time he played in the Winter Classic and he was in that line??? Didn't know there was a line??? I think not.

Posted by: svt97cobra | January 6, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse

"Oh, and did Crosby forget the fact that there was a handshake line the last time he played in the Winter Classic and he was in that line??? Didn't know there was a line??? I think not."

Uh, there was no handshake line done in the first winter classic, but I'm sure that was Crosby's fault, too. The handshake has only been done during the last two classics. So I guess he is sorry he violated that fine tradition.

Posted by: LionelMandrake | January 6, 2011 12:55 PM | Report abuse

If Boudreau were to grow a stache, wear a monocle and a top hat he would look just like the guy from Monopoly. He has a sort of cartoonish quality to him.
I hope the teams play each other in the playoffs again this year...that would be a great sequel.

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | January 6, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

For anyone who like the Caps/Penguins HBO shows, get the DVD of Miracle on Ice, which is the HBO show about the 1980 USA Olympic hockey team. I believe it is narrated by the same guy who did the Caps series. It is even better than the Caps shows and will give you chills.

Posted by: poguesmahone | January 6, 2011 3:22 PM | Report abuse

What a fantastic series!
As a Pens fan, I was seriously disappointed to see them leave the ice without the handshake. And as for the whining...any excessive mouthing off to the refs should be a penalty (unsportsman like conduct).
But it was a good series (I enjoyed both the Pens and Caps portions) and I look forward to more hockey between two of the best teams in the league!

Posted by: farrkl | January 6, 2011 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Correction, that HBO DVD is called "Do you believe in Miracles". Get it.

Posted by: poguesmahone | January 6, 2011 3:24 PM | Report abuse

@doggydodo: The public education system failed you and for that I'm sorry. Try typing with your fingers next time and not your nose. You might actually spell something right. Your preoccupation with intentionally mispronouncing a Russian Capitals' name is completely grade school. Try using your free period for something more productive. Maybe practice reading books without pictures for once.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | January 6, 2011 5:41 PM | Report abuse

@popopo: It's good to see that they let inmates in Pittsburgh use computers. Ovechkin, while not showing his standard skills on the ice, is better than Crosby. But of course, you probably will nut punch someone from behind too and teach your son to do the same. A shame. That's kinda' frooty.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | January 6, 2011 5:44 PM | Report abuse

@popopo: It's good to see that they let inmates in Pittsburgh use computers. Ovechkin, while not showing his standard skills on the ice, is better than Crosby. But of course, you probably will nut punch someone from behind too and teach your son to do the same. A shame. That's kinda' frooty.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | January 6, 2011 5:47 PM | Report abuse

@popopo: It's good to see that they let inmates in Pittsburgh use computers. Ovechkin, while not showing his standard skills on the ice, is better than Crosby. But of course, you probably will nut punch someone from behind too and teach your son to do the same. A shame. That's kinda' frooty.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | January 6, 2011 5:50 PM | Report abuse

After all is said and done...at least the world has seen what we all in Washingon already know...Cindy Crosby whines like a little girl. Now that Ovi is on board with Gillette, maybe Cindy can get a job at Kotex.

Posted by: fightinfire | January 7, 2011 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Thats the difference fightinfire.... Pen-whiners complained all game. I stopped the program to show the funny little hunny Mike Greens two blackened eyes. And reminded her how the Penns coaches targeted him, which is fair. But NO PEG-WHINING!! Just the tie score and almost the overtime score. They are not above the Caps, they are bllow them.

Posted by: fullbagg | January 8, 2011 1:39 AM | Report abuse

I kind of share Ovi's sentiments on [Bleeps]burgh. I mean, they call themselves the city of champions, but come on. The Penguins have won three Stanley Cups. The Steelers have won six Super Bowls. And the Pirates have won five World Series. That's a grand total of 14 world titles.

The Yankees by themselves have won 27 world titles. How can you call yourself the city of champions when one team in a sport that you've got a team in has won double the number of titles of all your teams combined?

Pittsburgh is a city that tries way too hard.

Posted by: tonyw44 | January 8, 2011 4:02 AM | Report abuse

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