HBO “Knock Knocks” into the spotlight with Flyers, Rangers.

Everybody please put your thumb in the air. HBO is back for round two.

Last night HBO’s Documentary series “Road to the Winter Classic” kicked off with the first episode of a four part series that features the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers. Both teams are set to face off in the 2012 Winter Classic, which will take place in Philadelphia at Citizens Bank Park. This marks the second time that the National Hockey League has allowed cameras pry into the lives of its players and coaches. After a wildly successful experiment last year, it was impossible to say no to all the behind the scenes action this year.

When we look at the first episode as a whole, we can easily see that producers haven’t missed a step and that are plenty of personalities to carry the series. Depending on who you ask, it might be Flyers goaltender llya Bryzgalov, New York Rangers coach John Tortarella, or the even the grandma of New York Rangers player Ryan Callahan. The notorious level of swearing continues but the calm familiar voice of Liev Schreiber helps fans fall into an attention coma that will render them helpless for the following sixty minutes. In those sixty minutes, we follow the highs and lows of the lone ranger (Artem Anisimov), the philosophical proclamations according the llya, and the credit card gamble, amongst other great material. Quotes such as “Hankie’s a professional changer” and “You gotta take care of the captain” will become cult favorites to those who don the blue shirts. The disappointment of a budding star will become the final note as we see Claude Giroux suffer a concussion at the hands of his own teammate.

This series looks as if it will continue to be the best marketing tool that the league has to use to attract non-hockey fans. HBO’s ability to pour emotion into each episode with a constant mix of visuals, characters, and music will catch the attention of even the harshest critic of the league. And while some may argue that this series is starting to veer off course by promoting a reality that doesn’t exist, nobody can argue the influence it has on the many hockey fans out there. This has become a love that keeps us waiting. The edges of our seats have never seen this much pressure.

Those interested in the technical aspect of the episode will find a healthy use of multiple camera angles, black and white footage, and the incredible tactful use of music to accentuate the story. Below you’ll be able to find a few notable songs that were used in the first episode. A full listing will appear on HBO’s website in the next few days or weeks.

  • Everything Moves – Bronze Radio Return
  • Knock Knock – Mac Miller
  • Oh Gentle Light – Cantus Sacred Music Ensemble
  • Lonely Boys – The Black Keys
  • Moneygrabber – Fitz and the Tantrums

What did you think of the first episode? Now is the perfect time to voice your opinion.

(If you missed the first episode, HBO plans to air the episode again over and over again before the second episode airs on Wednesday, December 21st at 10PM.)