It has been a great run for these playoffs and fans of the NHL in 2017. We have seen some of the best hockey we have seen in quite some time and it only gets better from here. The city of Pittsburgh finds these types of celebrations are a regular thing for them. Their Penguins are the defending champs and when you have players the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, both Conn Smythe winners. you have the recipe for a repeat champion.
For the city of Nashville, and Predator fans all across the state this is unchartered territory. Never before has this team or city seen a Western Conference Final and now the Preds are the conference champs. Never before has this team or city seen a shot a Lord Stanley’s Cup. The city has set up viewing parties in two different locations in the heart of the city. Tonight, the city will be all but shut down for the biggest sporting event it has ever seen.
You can’t help but think about names like Tom Fitzgerald, Greg Johnson, Tomas Vokoun, Martin Erat, Mike Dunham, Dan Hamhuis, Scott Hartnell, David Legwand, Ryan Suter, Scottie Upshall, Shea Weber and others. They were the guys that had a part in starting all of this. Players that were there for all those losses and heartbreaks. One wonders how they are feeling these days seeing their former team in the Stanley Cup Final.
You can’t help but think of a team that was once on the verge of moving to Canada and then a city determined not to lose them. From there, it has been a growing love affair with a team that never quits and that has been determined to get better each and every year.
GM David Poile has been through it all and is one steadying force that has kept this ship right. The years have seen him makes draft choices like Ryan Ellis, Phillip Forsberg, Roman Josi, Craig Smith, Colton Sissons, Colin Wilson, Austin Watson, and Pekka Rinne. The acquisitions that have made the difference like getting Mike Fisher, Ryan Johansen, James Neal, Mike Ribeiro, Yannick Webber and of course, P.K. Subban. They have all come together at the right time and they are now four wins away from the Stanley Cup.
Tonight, a city readies itself to show the hockey world that the NHL belongs in Nashville now and forever. Bars and restaurants will be filled to capacity like never before. Productivity may go down in the workforce the next week or so, but the excitement and enthusiasm of a city hungry for a championship will not diminish. No matter where you come from or what you look like, all that matters is that this team bring it home. This city is as ready as you can be to celebrate two decades of hard work. Hey, if you are close by and have a few days to kill, why don’t Y’all stop by downtown Nashville and you tell me if this city is ready.
It will be a hard series to win against a team with so much history and firepower. Captain Fisher is back as well as Craig Smith. Johansen will not play, but with the hottest goalie on the planet, a team on a roll, and a city so determined, the Cup is within reach. All we know here in Nashville is this: The Nashville Predators are four wins from Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Welcome to Smashville. Let’s go Preds. Game 1 is tonight in Pittsburgh.