"I want a Blues winter classic!" You hear it every year in St. Louis. The Blues Lounge sings that shit like some phony indie musician rips apart John Lennon's "Imagine". Realistically, it's not likely. The Blues don't fill Scottrade Center enough and other popular teams always get the nod. Alexander Ovechkin's Washington Capitals will appear with three different coaches before the Blues get their day in the open stadium sun. Still, that doesn't stop me from thinking about it and where there's a Tarasenko, there's a way. On Wednesday's all new episode of EPIX's The Road to The Winter Classic with the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens, the Blues got a fine cameo handing the Bruins a 2-0 loss last week, placing a silencer on the Eastern Conference team's hot streak.
Max Talbot got suspended for a dirty upper body elbow-throat meeting with New Jersey's Jiri Tlusty so he didn't participate. It was called interference but it was basically hey eat my elbow and respect my grey hairs on my beard because I'm Mad Max. Before the game, David Schimmer's unofficial brother claimed to "have his own opinion on the hit, and then respected the league's decision. Talbot has appeared on the series before with the Pittsburgh Penguins and even scored a goal against them during Episode 2. The hit was late, high and rough but if you ask me, having a name like Jiri makes you deserving of a rough smackdown. Sorry Mr. Lehtera. See for yourself.
Bruins' Brad Marchand(the recipient of a suspension himself this week) respects the Blues tough play, saying before the game, "They play a hard game. Gotta be ready for that." Thanks Brad. You still have a pointy face.
I think I can be an NHL hockey coach based solely off what I've seen on TV during these episodes. In one sequence, Bruins coach Claude Julien says, "Let's go to the net, Go to the net hard. Let's get rewarded. Make it a fun game." Play a hard 60. Yeah, play a hard game. 60 minutes. Yeah, I could do that.
Tuukka Rask looks like a gangster. He has the mischievous smile, hair and general look of somebody dangerous. Put that man in a dark turtle neck, dark suit and curl up those bangs and he could slip into a Scorsese joint any time. He also happens to be one of the best goalies in the league and has the hardware to prove it. He came into the game giving zero fucks about opposing players ability to score and the Blues gave him all they could handle early on. Slow motion shots are a sports documentary series' bread and butter, and Troy Brouwer's breakaway chance looks even sweeter in HD cable presentation. Alex Steen tried his best to put one past Rask as well. The Finnish bulldog wasn't having it.
Julien screams from the bench, "They(Blues) are good off the rush".
The Bruins commentator saying "it's a good kind of nasty out there" as Kevin Shattenkirk gives a Bruin his piece of mind behind the net. Center Zac Rinaldo going for Scottie Upshall's head and telling Lehtera it was "fucking clean" got me laughing.
Rask may have been great, but Jake Allen matched him in "I don't care about your goal totals and shit" department. The Bruins announcers fawned over the kid too, marveling as he stopped Marchand cold on the side of the net. Allen bounced back from a rough night in Philly with this 32 save shutout, his 5th of the season.
Big Bob Bortuzzo giving a Bruin a stick full of shit got the two lines on the ice converged in a close proximity shoving contest. Tell me all day about whether Borts can stick handle, shoot an outlet pass or perform the high quality needs of an NHL defenseman but the man is tough as nails and doesn't give a shit about the other players. He has zero respect for them and treats them like a hamburger wrapper on the ice. I love watching him play and he's a giant.
Narrator Bill Camp is okay at calling the action but miles apart from the superb LIev "Ross The Boss Rhea" Schreiber when it comes to sports commentary. Liev has the voice, the pause, breathing, and everything else down pat. One of the shortcomings of the series move from HBO to EPIX was losing Schreiber. I'm talking different buildings here.
Ask Julien about the difference between the Blues and Bruins after 40 minutes and it's desire baby! "Who has the desire to win and get their nose dirty around the net?" The guy makes me want to play hockey or get my nose in the kitchen and bake cinnamon roles or something.
Julien apparently got butthurt about Ryan Reaves dumping and smashing his players, including Zdeno "King Kong" Chara. Julien tells the refs between plays, "Reaves is fucking whacking our best players, so I'm not sure if you want our guys to give him the message or you guys." Reaves, at his best, is a manipulator of men. A master human feather ruffler. Watching him get inside the Bruins head here was more fun than the game live, especially seeing the players and Julien's reactions.
Without further ado, Reaves and Tyler Randell drop the gloves and EPIX wisely plays old spaghetti western gunslinger music as the commentators sing "We Wish You A Merry Christmas". A fight in real time is a joy. Watching Reaves land a hard overhand right hand to Randell's head and then land a few extra shots is testicle hair standing ovation inducing. Reaves is the best in the league because he is 250+ pounds, knows how to get control and has lengthy arms for supreme leverage. He faints a few times before he lands the the big blows that send the 190 pound Randell to the ice. That is how a fight in hockey can change things. It's like giving an extra nut to the other team.
Why? Five minutes later, Magnus "I do something good once a week" Paajarvi finds a streaking Tarasenko for a score. That's all Allen needed. Fuck you Bruins. That's life. Sometimes you are up. Sometimes you are down. Sometimes, you get shot by a Reaves and dunked by a Vladimir. Bang bang.
Minutes later, Alex Pietrangelo found Robby Fabbri who slices a wrist shot over Rask's right shoulder. Here comes the boom!
2-0 Blues. Merry Christmas, Bruins. Julien after the game, "Games like this prove that you shouldn't get complacent and there's room for improvement." You're damn right there is Claude.
If we can't get a Winter Classic, can EPIX and HBO do more of these shows. I'm in love with sports series on premium cable. Where the fucks fly like ducks on a pond and the bad neck acne and red face fury shine like brand new pennies in high definition. Hard Knocks. 24/7 Boxing. The Franchise. This series. Give me a brooding voiceover, players with their hot wives, in depth action, and behind the scenes quotes and I'll watch all day.
If you have EPIX, give this episode a look. Lots of Blues and lots of goodness. Also the single best song used in a sports series this year in The Silent Comedy's "Bartholomew".
Seriously, that Ennio Morricone tribute music during the Ryan Reaves fight was special treatment. So good. This needs to be played every time #75 fights now.
Have a good New Year's Eve folks. Maybe, one day, EPIX will feature a Blues Winter Classic at Busch Stadium or Soldier's Field. It's not illegal to dream.