The Nashville Predators have won their last 10 home playoff games dating back to last season and it is no fluke. The Preds are the first team since the ’97-’98 Detroit Red Wings squad to win 10 in a row on home ice.
Nicknamed “Smashville”, the city of Nashville, TN has embraced the Predators in an area where hockey is not as prevalent as most others with professional teams. For example, Buffalo has 10 hockey rinks designed for kids to play and learn the sport. How many does Nashville have? A whopping one, although plans to build a new recreational rink have already been approved.
This, however, is used to the Preds advantage. The sport of hockey is different from most in a physical sense and other ways and that is exactly what attracts the fans in Smashville. It is a fascinating sport to learn and the fans sure have figured it out.
Each game in Smashville is an overall entertainment event. Yes, of course everyone pays attention to the game completely while it is being played, but what happens between the whistles is what keeps everyone into it. Ever notice how the fans in Smashville are never really quiet or taken out of the game, even when the opposing team scores? Chalk that up to the organization finding ways to keep the fans happy despite how the team is playing.
This entertainment starts before the game on broadway and continues to the big-named country music stars singing the National Anthem. Carrie Underwood performed before game 1 against Chicago and Keith Urban played before the most recent game versus Anaheim on May 17, with several star-studded acts in between. The Predators also bring out a “hype-man/woman” before each game such as Tennessee Titans running back DeMarco Murray.
To say the least the entire city is all-in this year. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota and his offensive line made an appearance at game three yesterday against the Ducks and they got everyone going. Vanderbilt football coach Derek Mason has showed his support along the way as well. Even the Nashville Fire Department received t-shirts with the phrase, “Smashville Fire Stands With the Preds.” “Stand With Us” is the Preds playoff phrase for those who do not know.
The fans have an obvious impact on the team and organization throughout each game. The stadium is absolutely deafening throughout the game and it messes with the opponents as well.
“Everyone says their fans are great, but this is a whole different level of support,” Predators forward James Neal said in an interview with NHL.com. “The city, it’s on fire.”
The Predators look to make it 11 straight tomorrow night when they take on the Anaheim Ducks in Game 4 in Smashville. The Preds lead the series 2-1 and have already stolen home-ice advantage from the Ducks. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. and will be televised on NBCSN.