Smashville, Home of the Best Fans in the NHL
The gig is up; Nashville is the best hockey town in North America (yes, better than you Canada). After last night's series clinching win over the Anaheim Ducks in 6 games, the Nashville Predators advanced to their first ever Stanley Cup Final.
The Predators came into this 2017 postseason as the lowest seed. But, that hasn't stopped them from sweeping the Chicago Blackhawks, grinding out a 4-2 series against the St. Louis Blues, and defeating the dirty Anaheim Ducks despite losing their top two centers.
How has this Nashville Predators team been able to beat some quality opponents, to reach their first ever Cup Final you might ask? Look no further than Smashville, a.k.a Bridgestone Arena and the fans that fill it.
I was lucky enough to be in the building to watch the Preds pull out a gutsy, physical win against a very competitive Ducks team 6-3, to conclude maybe one of the most back and forth, gritty series I've ever seen.
The fans, the city of Nashville, and even the Tennessee Titans players, are fully invested in this team and this unforeseen run deep into the playoffs this year.
Just look at the scene OUTSIDE the arena last night:
Pure and utter bedlam. Inside the arena was no different, with fans staying long after Kevin Bieksa was ejected with 6 seconds remaining for being a butt hurt loser.
When Colton Sissons scored his third goal of the game with 6 minutes remaining in the third to put the Predators ahead for good, there were several minutes where I couldn't hear anything. I had never truly experienced the term "deafening" until last night in the final 5 or so minutes of the game.
The 23 year-old, 2012 Predators draftee was thrust into the first line in probably the biggest game in franchise history to date, and man, did he deliver. Partnered with two other young guns, Filip Forsberg and Pontus Aberg, the Preds first line, which totaled an average age of 22.7 years of age, provided the Preds with 4 of their 6 goals in the clinching game to send their side through to the finals.
While the cheering hugging took place in the stands and all around the state of Tennessee, the crowd are still not satisfied, as they chanted "we want the cup" as the team stood around (but didn't touch) the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl.
Predators fans have made their presence known in the NHL and have started to draw lots of national media attention as the loudest arena's in the league, and maybe the world. In Game 4, when Forsberg tied the game at 2 with just 30 seconds remaining, the fans in Bridgestone Arena broke the Guinness Book world record for sound in an arena at 129 decibels.
So to all the haters out there who thought, and still think the NHL can't thrive in the southeast, why don't you come down to the loudest building in the league and catch a game for yourself.
You might be lucky enough to see a huge catfish thrown on the ice by a professional football player.