Because I can be a procrastinator at times and due to taking some vacation time around Christmas, I didn’t get a chance to offer up any sort of reaction to episode two of NBCSN’s Road to the Winter Classic.
My laziness was probably for the best though as episode two and three offered up improvements from episode two but maybe didn’t feature enough meat to justify a full review. So I’ll roll each of the last two episodes into a single blog post as we look ahead to Monday’s Winter Classic.
The first episode of Road to the Winter Classic really lacked the punch that the pay cable versions offered. Simply having to censor the show was going to limit some of the color the Winter Classic’s behind the scenes predecessors had; attempting to completely avoid any obscenities – which appears to be what NBCSN has chosen to do – takes away a majority of the locker room and on-ice content. Naturally, that’s typically some of the best stuff the show offers.
The second and third episodes definitely built on the first episode of this edition of the series. Episode two was especially strong, with a number of good locker room sound bytes and on-ice bits.
One thing that I think this series has done is shown at least a glimpse at who Buffalo’s leaders are. For as much as certain fans complain about Jack Eichel’s work ethic or body language, he’s consistently been featured offering constructive feedback and advice to his teammates during intermission segments that are aired. This is just a fraction of what goes on off the ice with the Sabres, but it certainly seems that much of the criticism levied at Buffalo’s star is misguided.
We also got our obligatory coach kicking the cameras out of the locker room in episode three while also finally getting to see a Sabres win documented on the show. However, the win was quite abbreviated due to the episode working to fit in a lot of single-player segments.
These last two episodes definitely felt rushed as NBCSN’s 30-minute window has forced the production to cram in a lot of potential storylines into an abbreviated timeframe. The shorter episode lengths likely factor into the removal of some of the more entertaining and candid bits of footage just as much as working to remove profanity does.
We were still treated to more awkward moments with Brady Skjei, Jimmy Vesey and Jimmy Haayes, this time in their apartment where we learn they’ve never cooked a meal there and Skeji’s bedroom might actually be a closet. But most of the episodes pack in player features with Marc Staal, Kyle Okposo, Mats Zuccarello, Ryan O’Reilly and Zach Bogosian. These are always nice features but they feel rushed, especially when compared to the longer features from episode one.
I’d certainly prefer an uncensored version of the show that showed a bit more color and personality. But I’d be happy to take a censored version – or at least one with cursing beeped out – in favor of hour-long episodes.
Pulling the episodes out to 60 minutes would allow more depth in the player features and create time for candid on and off-ice situations.
- The Rangers elevator guy is WAY cooler than Bill
- I’d be lying if I said that at 25 years old and making six figures with an NHL team I’d make more meals than Hayes and his roomates have (zero). I can’t blame them one bit.
- If the Zuccarello Christmas tree scene looked familiar it’s because HBO followed Marian Gaborik to do the same thin during their 24/7 season.
- Really bummed we didn’t get any sort of reaction to new Winter Classic gear like we got with Ovie in the initial 24/7. I can’t help but think some of these guys would’ve had good reactions.
- What percentage of Sabres fans are trying to place each house they shoot at? 80%, 90%?
- “Witness the Power” is the slogan above the door the Sabres walk onto the ice from. I’d be curious to know the genesis of that one. Maybe it’s an ad deal with New Wave Energy.