Originally written on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 12/22/11

Just when you thought nothing could possibly top last week's premier episode of HBO's 24/7: Road to the NHL Winter Classic series, episode 2 stole the spotlight by a mile. Really, that was an extraordinary 60 minutes of television - maybe the best I've ever seen. 

In episode two we get to see a lot more of the off-ice stuff, which is really what 24/7 is geared to present to its viewers. The show began with Henrik Lundqvist (and his Maserati) heading over to a studio to rock out with tennis star John McEnroe, as they were preparing for a performance they will put on together for a charity even in February. Now, watching this, I think everyone had the same thought: "Is there anything Henrik Lundqvist doesn't do?"

We are then taken to the apartment of Dan Girardi, where we met his 18-month-old son, Landon. Aside from the kid being a stud and wearing faded designer jeans under the age of two, he also had a wicked wrist shot and one-timer. I suggested on Twitter that Landon may have even looked sharper with a stick in his hand than Brandon Dubinsky does right now. I wasn't kidding, either. 

The next time we saw the Rangers was in the locker room a day before their game in St. Louis, where head coach John Tortorella was going over film with his players. I thought this was up there with the best moments of episode 2, because we really got a glimpse as to how Tortorella has complete control of his players and how they respect and listen to his every word. He was candid, honest - just was advertised. 

I found it interesting that he turned to Michael Del Zotto and told him that he was the club's best defensemen in their prior game, and also turned to captain Ryan Callahan to decide what time the team would leave the arena. Tortorella has a history of relying heavily on his captains, and we saw it there with Cally. Those two have tremendous respect for each other. 

Several minutes later, Tortorella was not so easy-going when we were brought into the locker room after the team had gone down, 2-0, in the first period against St. Louis. That's when we saw our first Torts explosion, which included the following:

"I asked you to [expletive] defend. I've seen you [expletive] defend before! And you're gonna do it here. If that's how we're gonna battle, we're not going to have a chance TO WIN! Jesus Christ, how much time do we have to talk about it? If that's all the juice we have, as far as competing against that team, WE WILL GET KILLED TONIGHT. And we have two periods here. So I've asked you all to buy into how we have to play. If that's it, we're [expletive] done. PACK IT UP! And I know that this [expletive] team isn't that way. I'VE SEEN YA!

"We've got 40 [expletive] minutes to go. Take each shift at a time and chip away. They're not that good in their end zone. And we know our club. That's the biggest [expletive] positive of our team is how hard we play. So [expletive] screw it on right here. Screw it on and let's be ready to go each shift at a time. Stiffen up here! And if you're not going to be stiff you're not going to play!"

That's some heavy stuff, but I love it. 

But then HBO did an amazing job of portraying Tortorella's soft side with the following segment, which has already been posted to YouTube:

 

I was completely speechless after watching that. I held back the tears, but it was tough. Words just don't do a story like that justice. Incredible. 

The last we see of the Rangers is the team on a high note, following their 0.1 second win over the Phoenix Coyotes, in which we are finally shown the passing of the Broadway Hat (from Gaborik to Richards). Good stuff. 

All in all, another compelling episode, with coach Tortorella stealing the show this time around. Can't wait for part three. 

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