My ears are absolutely ringing right now. I’m not even exaggerating. They’re hurting. – Ryan Johansen
Music is meant to be heard at full volume. That’s why we attend concerts, or roll the car windows down and turn the volume up. Nashville, the self-proclaimed “Music City,” knows all about rockin’ loud music, but on Sunday, the loudest show in town didn’t start with a power chord.
Thanks to an absolutely gorgeous pass from teammate Viktor Arvidsson, Nashville Predators star center Ryan Johansen scored the biggest goal in franchise history (and his career) up to this point. As soon as the puck made contact with the twine behind Jake Allen, the roof of the Bridgestone Arena blew off its hinges, and the noise level remained for the rest of Nashville’s 3 – 1 win over the St. Louis Blues.
Party Time in Smashville
There’s loud, and then there’s “Smashville” loud. “It’s a really positive thing – certainly for our franchise, our fans and the city of Nashville,” head coach Peter Laviolette said. “You can see the excitement not only in the building, but outside of the building, and I think that only helps promote hockey and helps promote the growth of what we’re trying to do here in Nashville.”
The first thing you notice when you watch a Predators playoff home game on TV are the colors. Surrounding the rink is a sea of gold, as every fan adorns some sort of matching Predator apparel. In between whistles, luscious gold lights descend upon the ice, as if P.K. Subban was about to bust into a guitar solo.
But the noise, even on TV, is what draws you in. The decibel levels in the Bridgestone Arena have been a big story line so far in this Predator playoff run. It’s not just the music blaring through the speakers that’s loud, it’s the sound of 17,200 voices pushing their team on the ice.
“It was an unbelievable experience tonight in the building and really all year,” Laviolette continued. “Our fans deserve so much credit for how the atmosphere is here. It doesn’t have to be that way yet it is. Our players, coaches and organization really appreciate that.”
The players themselves also took notice. “You take a look into the crowd, everyone’s on their feet for the entire game, and the atmosphere that the fans bring for us is unbelievable,” defenseman Ryan Ellis said. “Standing ovations at every whistle almost. It was an exciting game, an exciting series, and now we’re on to the next one.”
Players around the league always talk about feeding off of the energy from the home crowd, and in Nashville, it really seems to be making a difference. What the Nashville fan base has reminded everyone watching so far is that, hey, the NHL playoffs are supposed to be fun! So what if Subban wants to dance during the warm ups? With a crowd like Nashville’s, it’s hard not to feel the buzz. The playoffs are supposed to be loud, which is what playing at home is all about. As the Predators move on to the third round, it’s obvious that the city of Nashville has fully embraced this franchise.
Keep On Rollin’
Of course, it helps that the team on the ice is playing the best brand of hockey this city has ever witnessed. The Predators are rolling, proving that sometimes all it takes in the playoffs is to get hot at the right time. Although the Predators entered this year’s postseason without much expectation as one of the last teams to enter the fray in the Western Conference, everything seems to be coming up roses at the perfect moment. For the Preds, big trades are paying off, the defense is dominating on both ends of the ice, and Pekka Rinne is playing some of the best hockey of his career in net.
While the Ducks and Oilers will need a Game 7 to decide who advances to face the big bad Preds in the Western Conference Final, all eyes (and ears) are on Nashville, because for the first time since their inaugural season in 1998, the Predators are the titans of the Central Division.
So, go ahead Nashville, get wild! Act like clowns! Just don’t tell Mike Milbury.
Jeff Yerger covers the Nashville Predators for THW. He once accidentally drew on one of Henrik Lundqvist’s suits (just don’t tell Hank). He is also a sucker for IPAs and saxophone solos. Find him on Twitter @jyergs.