Rangers head coach John Tortorella doesn't want people talking about...

Rangers head coach John Tortorella doesn't want people talking about a possible Stanley Cup title. (undated file photo) Credit: AP

When that HBO "24/7" series leading up to hockey's Jan. 2 Winter Classic in Philadelphia debuts the first of four episodes tomorrow night, viewers will get more of an inside glimpse at the Rangers than coach John Tortorella would prefer.

The team is playing well -- 14 victories in its last 18 games after Sunday night's 6-1 blowout of Florida -- and exuding a one-for-all togetherness. Still, the constant presence of behind-the-scenes cameras is "a pain" to Tortorella.

"There's no question; I can't stand it," Tortorella said. "But it doesn't affect my coaching. Listen, let me make it clear. are good guys, good guys. I just don't want people in our locker room. But I know we have to do it."

As part of participating in the Winter Classic, teams are required by the league to sign on to the HBO project. And Tortorella acknowledged that, most of the time, "you don't even notice" the presence of the cameras. "I don't even see them. That's where they're really good. It hasn't affected how we go about our business. I just don't agree with it."

He has not, he insisted, edited himself for the cameras. "Because I know we have final say" in what will be broadcast. "You know, things happen. The last thing I want to happen on that show is a player looked at the wrong way. It's an emotional game, emotional times. There's plenty enough stuff you can turn into a good show without a player being jammed up or be in a tough spot that is seen by everybody.

"I don't want you to think it's a free-for-all in that locker room every night, screaming and yelling, because it doesn't happen. And I think you'll see that as we go through it."

Meanwhile, on full display over the weekend were the back-to-back victories over Buffalo and Florida, giving the Rangers a 3-0-1 record in the second game of back-to-backs this season, legitimizing the team's demanding training camp, Tortorella said.

"We have a hard camp," he said. "It's condition-oriented, and it's a challenge for them. The way we always talk about it is, 'This is going to pay off.' You can hear me even say that in between periods in these types of situations.

"It's nice to have in the back of your mind when that's what we've talked about, in terms of energy."

And there will be no rest for the weary now: After Tuesday night's home game against Dallas, the Rangers will play at St. Louis on Thursday and at Phoenix on Saturday before next Monday's game in New Jersey. While HBO prepares to chronicle everything about that big game in Philadelphia Jan. 2.

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