just finished the replacement. couldn't really do the door-removal technique, as it was a full fridge. taped some paint drop plastic over the opening. a magnetic socket/nut driver would have been really helpful, as JWWebster suggested. used a socket and extension by hand, since the screws were all barely hand-tightened down. the flap part kinda sagged on the bottom part. taped it to the door... see if it'll tighten up with the cooling.
the seal came in a fairly large box; just folded over a little bit, so the hot water treatment wasn't needed.
thanks for all the advice, guys!