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HBO 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic Leafs/Red Wings. The Toronto Maple Leafs will take on the Detroit Red Wings in the 2014 Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Michigan in what is being billed as the biggest hockey game of all time, with estimates of 110,000-120,000 in attendance.

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HBO 24/7: Maple Leafs - Red Wings

The moment you’ve all been waiting for (and it lives up to the hype) – Phil Kessel up close and personal on the final episode of HBO 24/7:

The Phil Kessel vs. Dion Phaneuf Ping Pong Rematch (same result):

The third of four episodes spans from the shootout win over Phoenix to the shootout loss at the hands of the Rangers before the Christmas break (after which Joffrey Lupul is followed while Christmas shopping and James van Riemsdyk and his family are featured in their annual Christmas shinny game). The centerpiece of the episode is, naturally, the first meeting of the season between the Wings and Leafs.

In a far more entertaining second episode of 24/7, both clubs are mired in the frustration of losing too many games, with the respective head coaches serving as the central characters. A furious Mike Babcock sends an HBO cameraman scurrying out of the Wings dressing room. During Randy Carlyle’s outburst, the Toronto cameraman has the foresight to tape through a half-closed door rather than standing in the middle of the maelstrom.

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HBO 24/7: Maple Leafs - Red Wings

MLHS hopes those affected by the power outages are doing OK – if you’re one, stop wasting your remaining cell battery and get off MLHS.

This second episode of HBO 24/7 will juxtapose the Leafs’ brutal losses to St. Louis and Florida with one of the best wins of the season vs. Chicago.

Here is a link to a YouTube video. I’m not sure if it’s a legal copy, so I won’t embed here.

HBO 24/7 Red Wings / Maple Leafs – Road to the NHL Winter Classic – Full Episode #1

In Episode #1 of HBO 24/7 Red Wings / Maple Leafs – Road to the NHL Winter Classic, hockey fans get an inside look to The Original Six Franchise’s dressing room, coaching staff, players, and hockey operations.

Enjoy.

Episode 1 of HBO 24/7: Leafs/Wings aired its first episode Saturday night on HBO U.S. Sportsnet will have a profanity-but-not-commercial free showing Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. EST.

While it was a relatively tame opening “tee up” episode, it still had us glued, and there were a few entertaining moments. The HBO production literally made a closing door seem epic.

Among the highlights, a mic’d up Joffrey Lupul took on Slava Voynov after taking a high cross check to the face, firing Nazem Kadri up on the bench:

Randy Carlyle tangoed with a malfunctioning toaster, calling in the assistance of a member of the maintenance staff who stuck his hand in to fish it out.

Jonathan Bernier reminds the dressing room that the Bruins are to be despised:

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HBO 24/7 Maple Leafs-Red Wings

What we consider to be “reality” television is far less real than you might think. Events depicted as authentic human drama are often at least partially scripted, with larger narratives and plotlines frequently influenced by hidden teams of experienced writers and producers. Rare is the day that the tribe actually does the speaking.

Gripping and authentic as it may seem, HBO’s 24/7 series is no different. The purported documentary is designed to provide a look behind the scenes at hockey players fighting their way through early-season challenges on the road to the famed Winter Classic. A series of storylines are portrayed around that journey, to ramp up the drama and tone down the mundane doldrums of the NHL lifestyle.

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MLHS’ Alec Brownscombe chatted with Vice President of Hockey Operations and GM of the Toronto Marlies Dave Poulin earlier this afternoon. The conversation starts with a discussion of Poulin’s role in the organization and touches on the promotion of Chris Dennis to assistant coach, before leading into a discussion of the team’s possession play, team identity, and the off-season moves. The interview wraps up with a few questions about next season’s schedule. Enjoy.

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A couple of days ago, I had a pretty interesting conversation with @Dudgee (solid MLHS guy, give him a follow) when he first stated that he thought the Leafs brass should withhold judgement on Kessel and Bozak until we see them in the playoffs. This got me thinking, because Bozak is due for an extension and Kessel is going into the final year of his contract, ultimately with the prospects of a massive raise from his current $5.400mn salary. So I wondered – is Bozak destined to simply be a rental player for the Leafs during the playoffs, or is there anything he can do to solidify himself as a key cog in the organization?

Judging from most of the stuff I’ve heard on Twitter, if seems like the  masses are ready to dispose of Bozak, and I wanted to reach out to our writers to see what they thought. From my side, regardless of whether Bozak stays, or not, the situation at centre will change – with Kadri’s ascension and Grabovski’s sub-optimization – and this summer could mark the beginnings of the organization’s intense search for a #1 Centre, which is key to turning the Leafs into a better possession team.

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With just ten games left on the schedule for the Leafs this season, here are ten thoughts I’ve been considering heading into those final games.