It began with Eric Boulton yanking at Kyle Okposo's chest hair.
Okay not exactly, but that was one of the first scenes during the New York Islanders segment of NBC Sports' "NHL Revealed," a densely packed behind-the-scenes look at all the teams participating in "Stadium Series" and related outdoor games this year.
That scene, during the optional morning skate and downtime on the day of the Islanders' meeting with the Dallas Stars, was a glimpse into "boys being boys" and into the tight atmosphere that characterizes a hockey locker room.
Boulton, seen by so many teammates as a hilarious glue guy, was poking at expectant father Okposo, whose pending arrival was one of the chief focuses of the Islanders segment of the show.
All told, it was well done by the producers -- they had a ton of teams to cover, and they gave a taste of the story lines with each one. Chief among those for the Islanders, of course, was John Tavares -- he scored a hat trick against the Stars that night -- who properly honors the alter of Bossy.
Among the highlights:
- The everyman appeal of becoming a new father, captured tastefully and well with Okposo and the support he received from teammates and family. The cameras went into the hospital -- and on the car ride to it -- but never invasively so. Okposo delivering the news to his father and sister (who is gorgeous, by the way; what a beautiful family) was probably the most touching moment of the episode.
- Okposo's mother-in-law says if you think his game has been good over the last nine months, just wait until after the baby has arrived. She could be an announcer.
- In pre-game, John Tavares takes a moment to reflect in front of the Mike Bossy plaque. In accordance with the prophecies.
- If you never thought about an NHLer having a full-time job, from exercise to managing everything he eats, should get that now. All of the stretching, the workouts -- from practice day, to gameday morning, to the hallway before the game -- gives you an idea of how today's NHLer is not the beer leaguer of the old pre-'90s NHL.
- Going for a story angle, the narration focused on John Tavares not knowing whether Okposo would be in the lineup for the Stars game at the Coliseum. In reality, we all know he did just fine.
- Tavares doing a little intermission mentoring of Ryan Strome on power play rotation was a cool glimpse. So was the mic'd up reactions after Strome's goal, his first in the NHL. "Feels good, eh?" Tavares says after picking up the first-goal puck.
- The Jack Capuano pre-gamer is as you'd expect and -- oh, here's a shock, it's like half the other coaches captured on film in the series -- talks about being "quick, physical," showing "urgency and intensity for 60 minutes." Paul MacLean's board for the Senators has the same themes. They all do. Hockey is a simple game requiring constant reminders. The intermission talk had more specifics about efficient line changes (one guy at a time) to maintain pressure.
- Evgeni Nabokov was injured in that Stars game. But as the players return to the locker room victorious, you see Nabokov, dressed in his suit, bowing to Tavares. Praise be to Bossy.
- And rightfully so: Tavares' hat trick was nicely timed for this series.
- Also on Tavares: He squabbles with the ref, who is tired of his complaints, but does nothing to address the point that Casey Cizikas was sent off for a soft penalty after getting punched in his broken jaw right in front of the refs.
- And still more: As previously previewed, they had his, and other Canadian Olympians', reactions to hearing of their selection to the team. Tavares took the call just a few hours after arriving in Toronto at 3 a.m. for their back-to-back game, which they won.
- In Toronto, Okposo joins the team and Matt Donovan sizes up the new baby's weight in discussion over the team meal. I like to picture him, as an Oklahoman, comparing it to a baby calf. (He didn't though. At least not on camera.)
[Full episode original airing schedule here.]
And that about does it for Isles coverage. Good stuff on some of the other teams in this episode, including Drew Doughty driving a nice car and having the world -- and assumed Olympic selection -- in his hands. (Juxtaposed with Jeff Carter, who was on the bubble for Team Canada and clearly nervous about it.) Jonathan Toews is as riveting as ever; Patrick Kane still looks 12.
But overall, more national -- and flattering -- Islanders coverage than fans have seen in ages. What did you think? Was it good for you?
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