The Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers are both atop the Eastern Conference standings, battling for the top spot in the Atlantic Division, and while the first episode followed the Rangers through some losses and the Flyers through a continued win streak, you get the sense that both teams are feeling pretty darn good about themselves.
While teams that are struggling perhaps make for more compelling television, winning teams can be much more entertaining. Not that we don't want to focus on the hockey or anything, but when Ilya Bryzgalov is talking about tigers and the universe... well, that's just better.
There are spoilers below. Don't read on if you haven't watched the show just yet.
Oh, where are you going? You're going to Hell.
No, just Philadelphia.
I'm very into the universe. How it was created, what is it. The solar system is so humongous big, right? But if you see our solar system, our galaxy on the side, it's so small. You can't even see. Our galaxy is huge, but if you see the big picture, our galaxy is small tiny, like dot in the universe. And you think, like, we have some problems here on the Earth we worry about? Compared to like.... nothing. Just be happy... don't worry, be happy right now.
Alcohol, Cognac and lots of mixing of the natural stuff. This is tiger, and less than probably 500 species left on Earth. China law, if you kill tiger like this, death penalty. If you kill the tiger and they find you, you're dead. That's it.
Sources tell SB Nation that Bryzgalov will be teaching a philosophy class at Temple next fall. Classes are at 5 p.m., allowing him to get home from his job at a corner liquor store. Enroll now.
Meanwhile, in New York, the Rangers were busy taking the subway to Madison Square Garden like everybody else, taking kids to see the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, and of course, getting yelled at in a million different ways by John Tortorella.
From the first intermission of last week's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs:
With [Phil] Kessel, if ya have a chance, finish him. He's a good player, but don't shit your pants on him. Don't play off of him. We have to try and take time and space from him.
And more importantly, it's the players away from the puck. Brian Boyle, we've done that fucking coverage all fucking year long. You've got that fucking mic on, you can't fucking think straight.
And when Michael Del Zotto goes to the training room after a hard crash into the boards the night before...
I have a tough time seeing players in the trainers room all the time gettin' rubbed and they're sore and they're gettin' this done, that done. I think athletes can create more problems for themselves than there really is. I think that's part of a mindset.
And when Marian Gaborik fails to step up against the Sabres...
Are you gonna stop on a fucking puck tonight? Are you gonna stop on one tonight? For fucks sake.
But it's all good. As Gaborik says, "there's nothing going around the bushes." I'm sure he doesn't beat around the bush, either.
There's still plenty of time left in the show for Tortorella -- or Peter Laviolette in Philly, for that matter -- to really blow up on the team. I'm sure it will happen. But in Episode 1, Ryan Callahan stole the Rangers side of the show. Or, more specifically, his 95-year-old grandmother.
You can go call your grandmother now. We'll still be here when you get back.
-- The talk around Artem Anisimov's incident was fascinating. Tortorella tells the official point blank that he "doesn't agree with it" while still wondering about the penalty calls on the play. In the locker room, Anisimov waits for his teammates to enter. First to walk in? Sean Avery, with a huge smile on his face.
Anisimov wound up apologizing to the team after the game, and the next day at practice, he talked about the genesis of the idea. There's a dude in Russia that does that after every goal, apparently, and he always told himself that when he made the NHL, he'd try it out. Yeah, wasn't a good idea.
-- Speaking of Avery, of course he spends his off day at a photo shoot.
-- Claude Giroux's concussion was the low point of the episode. We learned that the Flyers were basically suspecting concussion the entire time, even though they said the day after that Giroux was feeling better. Behind the scenes, we heard Giroux say he just felt "about the same" on Sunday. And then, the confirmation: concussion. Out indefinitely. Seeing the entire concussion-testing process was just great, great television.
-- Brandon Prust and Brandon Dubinsky definitely come off a bit whiny. From Dubinsky's encounter with the referee in the penalty box after the whole Anisimov incident to Prust's complaining for a penalty when a Buffalo Sabre snowed goalie Martin Biron, the two Brandon's didn't come off well at all.
-- The Rangers spending the day with kids at Radio City Music Hall and Wayne Simmonds helping out with Ed Snider's Youth Hockey Foundation were the nice moments of the show. Community involvement and all that.
-- The Capitals stole the show with their victory song last year, and while the Flyers didn't exactly match Beat Dat Beat by DJ Pauly D, they did enter a nice contestant into the field: Knock Knock by Mac Miller.
-- The Rangers decide who pays the check at dinner with a version of Russian Roulette featuring credit cards in a bag. Last card pulled from the bag is the loser. But they can all afford it, even Jeff Woywitka, so you know what? They all win.
-- Scott Hartnell telling Matt Cooke he's the dirtiest player in the league? Priceless.
Coming next week: the Flyers travel to Washington without Giroux and keep winning games. The Rangers crush the Panthers at home before a loss to the Dallas Stars. Maybe we'll get to hear their victory song, too.