Monday, November 22, 2010

Preview: HBO's Winter Classic 24/7 show, Pens vs Caps

Whether or not you're a Capitals or Penguins fan, the opening words of this preview speak to the beauty of the game of hockey. It's a nice preview of the Caps vs Pens 24/7 reality show that will be playing on HBO this fall, leading up to the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on New Year's Day in Pittsburgh.

If you've been living under a rock, or just aren't as familiar with the NHL yet, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals are Eastern Conference rivals - the rivalry fed by facing off against one another repeatedly not only in cross-EC matchups, but they've knocked one another out of the Stanley Cup playoff runs in the past dozen years. The Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009 after beating the Capitals in the Conference Semi-finals (second round), for example. 

Sidney Crosby (captain, Penguins) and Alex Ovechkin (captain, Capitals) are also two of the highest-profile and most-talented players currently playing professional hockey. Crosby is seen as an aw-gee-shucks, clean-cut Canadian player - the "Next One", who scored the "Golden Goal" for Team Canada in the 2010 Olympics.

Ovechkin is a study in contrasts to him - a bit dark, a bit rough, but humorous; raised in tough circumstances in Moscow, and now lightning up the North American hockey stage as he seeks his own elusive Stanley Cup win. Ovechkin - tabbed "the GR8", in reference to the number he wears on his back as well as his skill level - is widely regarded as the best hockey player in the world right now.

HBO has promised that the series will take a wider look at the two teams than just their respective dynamic captains. Hockey fans certainly hope that is the case, as both Crosby and Ovechkin have received tons of publicity over the past few years, leading many fans to be weary of both. The two teams are both loaded with talent, and the 24/7 series will not only offer the opportunity to get to know many more of these players, but to also allow people a more in-depth look at the sport of hockey.

More so than any other professional sport, hockey is the ultimate team sport. While a single player can be a huge motivational fulcrum for a team, it is impossible for a single player to muscle their team through to a championship, or even just a playoff berth, on their own shoulders. And it is not simply about what happens on the ice; it is also about what it takes off the ice - as a family; as a community - to make somebody into a hockey player. The time, the commitment, the dedication. So hopefully, HBO can really give a sense of that over the course of the series. 

The NHL 24/7 show debuts on HBO on December 15th and will also be available via HBO On Demand.

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