'24/7' leaves you hungry for final installment

As opening scenes go, it's hard to beat a good ol' coach's rant.

And Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette delivers a beauty to kick off Episode 3 of HBO's "24/7," a powerful way to get things going.

The show opens with a steaming and pacing Laviolette getting ready to drop the hammer on his team in the second-period intermission in Denver.

"The scoring chances in that period were 7-1 for the opposition," Laviolette said before glaring over at Flyers winger Scott Harntnell.

"You know why Hartsy? Because it's about as f------ casual as it gets. As casual as it gets."

Laviolette referred to the team's last loss, a 6-0 whipping to Boston, and reminded them that they talked about turning the page and quickly moving on after that loss snapped a seven-game win streak.

"Somebody tell me what the f--- is the difference now?," shouted Laviolette with his cheeks reddening in anger. "What's the problem now? I want to see people rip their heart out of their f------ chest in this period. And if you don't? You're probably not going to like your ice time. Take your shift, you'll get it, and earn your second one. I'm not putting up with it. There's too much horse s---. Too much. Don't allow it. D-zone coverage, soft down low. Out to the point, casual stride. We don't want to block a shot. Because it hurts. One game, Boston, all right let's move on. Tonight? Unacceptable. Not going to happen. We're way better than what we just showed. Every guy in here knows it. And you should not accept it. Don't. You got 20 minutes. You win a period, you win a game, we move on. But you need to dig in right now. Every guy. Enough is enough. Start playing with some jam. Let's go."

All right then, now you've got your audience locked in for 60 minutes.

Episode 3 didn't disappoint Wednesday night, packing a show chock full of terrific scenes, leaving you hungry for the final installment centered around Monday's Winter Classic.

Some of my favorite moments:

  • Super clip on the ice during practice when Laviolette and star center Claude Giroux discuss whether Giroux feels ready to return from a concussion.

    "You look really good out there," Laviolette said to Giroux during a break in practice.

    "I don't know how I'm going to feel during the game, but I just don't want to go out there and hurt the team," responded the native of Hearst, Ontario. "I don't know how I'm going to play."

    "You're kidding me, right? You look great out there," Laviolette said.

    And that pretty much cemented it, although officially the Flyers wouldn't decide until the next day. Giroux returned the following night and, ho-hum, collected four points in his return.

  • Brad Richards hosting a Rangers' holiday party at his place in New York. Not really sure what to make of those Christmas costumes. Ryan Callahan, burn the film. Whoa.

  • Classic moment when Giroux looks at Stars winger Steve Ott and asks him if he's going to take a faceoff against him. Ott, one of the league's top agitators, reminds Giroux that he's one of the top faceoff men in the league.

    "I'm fifth in the league, so I'm probably going to win it right there," Ott boasts to Giroux.

    Wrong. Giroux wins it clean.

  • Of course, this would be the night of Ott's now famous run-in with Laviolette at the end of the first period. Ott intercepted Laviolette as he tried to walk through the Stars players going down the tunnel.

    Ott: "No, no, no, hey, show some class, you're going to let our team go."

    Laviolette: "Go f--- yourself."

    Ott: "Show some f------ class."

    As I reported Tuesday, the league in the end chose to not fine either of them but had Laviolette and Ott hash it out over the phone. Now there is a clip that would have been gold on Wednesday's show! But I must give HBO credit for getting Laviolette on camera after that Dallas game and trying desperately to get him to talk about it. Laviolette didn't bite.

  • Rangers star winger Marian Gaborik buying a Christmas tree at a neighborhood store and carrying it over his shoulder back home, stick-handling his way through the sidewalks of New York. Priceless.

  • Flyers winger Jaromir Jagr, getting dressed before the team's big game in New York against their Winter Classic rival Rangers, tells his linemate Giroux that Madison Square Garden is a tough place to score four points in. Then Jagr, with his trademark smile, looks back up to Giroux and quips: "I did it."

    Few players in the league have a better sense of humor than the Czech veteran. He's a natural for this show.

  • Flyers enforcer Tom Sestito -- recently called up -- yapping at the Rangers' bench: "I'm going to knock every f------ one of you out."

    Retorts Brad Richards from the Rangers' bench: "One day in the NHL for you ... fantasy camp for you."

    Love it.

  • Brilliant to have an HBO camera in the war room in Toronto when there's a Rangers goal that needs reviewing. The exchange between the refs in New York and league hockey operations vice president Mike Murphy is fantastic, behind-the-scenes footage.

  • It's Christmas Eve in Ilya Bryzgalov's New Jersey home and his kids steal the show.

    "I'm much more English-er and you're much more Russian," his son tells his daughter. She's not impressed by her brother on that one. Hilarious.

The show ends with shots of work beginning at the ball park in Philadelphia where there will be an NHL game -- don't forget -- on Monday. And you have to figure, the best of the four "24/7" episodes still awaits us.