Every week, we'll provide a handy recap and accompaniment to the latest episode of Quest for the Stanley Cup, the NHL docu-series about the playoffs available exclusively in the U.S. on ESPN+.
This week we dive into Episode 1, titled "Familiar Foes."
Describe this episode in 10 words or less
Daddy Landeskog, Smokin' Cooper and we've traded bubbles for fans.
The third period of Game 1 between the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights. The game was out of hand and the Golden Knights were in full message-sending mode. This is where Ryan Reaves earned his two-game suspension. It's also were Avalanche coach Jared Bednar gives his team some priceless advice: "If you want to eliminate all this bulls--- and you want to get some licks in, put the puck in and get in on the f---ing forecheck. Quit sitting around and waiting for them to come at us!" Just great stuff.
These shows are always good for some "my daddy plays in the NHL" segments. In the premiere, it's Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, taking care of 19-month-old daughter Linnea (and her adorable hair) and 3-month-old son Lucas. Quality daddying, but also informative: Landeskog discussed how he tested positive for COVID-19 and had to isolate away from his 38-weeks-pregnant wife.
QUEST FOR THE STANLEY CUP is also healthy for you. #CaleJuice pic.twitter.com/dsxQ1BSMZH— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) June 4, 2021
NHL teams are famous for their "player of the game" trinkets that are handed out in the locker room. The Washington Capitals, for example, handed out Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do headbands to their players this season. The Avalanche opted for a gigantic necklace and pendant that Brandon Saad awarded to [checks captioning] "Cale Juice" after Cale Makar's brilliant Game 1 effort.
Best guest star
True to form, David Ayres shows up when you least expect him. The famous emergency backup goaltender (EBUG), who won his only NHL appearance as the third-stringer for the Hurricanes in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs last season, was seen taking photos and signing autographs in Raleigh as a cult hockey hero. His chyron called him "former NHL goalie," which is great.
Best carnivorous juxtaposition
I also really enjoyed the QUEST FOR THE STANLEY CUP juxtaposition of incredible BBQ tailgating in Raleigh with shots of Hamilton the Pig. pic.twitter.com/129sfdibWj— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) June 4, 2021
If there's playoff hockey happening in Raleigh, then there better be mouth-watering shots of Carolina BBQ -- and there are! Which does make things a little awkward when the episode includes a few moments with endearing (and off-limits) Hurricanes mascot Hamilton the pig outside the arena, too.
That feeling when the new season of QUEST FOR THE STANLEY CUP drops on ESPN+ pic.twitter.com/nRg6wt1fGl— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) June 4, 2021
Jon Cooper. The Tampa Bay Lightning coach opened the episode with a flashback to the Stanley Cup bubble playoffs of 2020, when he was smoking victory cigars with his assistant coaches after hoisting the trophy. Then we meet Cooper today, smoking another cigar by a very impressive pool ahead of this season's playoffs. Add in some great locker room talks -- both motivating and strategic -- and Cooper was clearly the episode's star.
The majority of the episode was dedicated to one game between the Avalanche and Golden Knights, and another between the Lightning and Hurricanes, which is fine. But we didn't get anything from the East Division and North Division series. We imagine that'll change in subsequent episodes, however.
Lingering questions after watching
So, "Cale Juice" then? Not the more accurate "Cale Smoothie"?