To say that the Nashville Predators are in unchartered territory is now an understatement.
The Predators and their fans are getting love from the Canadian media and are looking to take their first ever lead in a conference semi-final series.
The experience seems unreal to many die-hard Pred fans who have seen countless first-round failures and an irritatingly large amount of moral victories. A new standard has been set for hockey in Nashville from the on-the-ice performance to the 17,113 that pack Bridgestone Arena when the Predators hit the ice. Nashville will once again take the ice on Tuesday night in front of a sold out Bridgestone Arena in their first home conference semi-final game. The word around Nashville is that the intensity of games goes up the further you go in the playoffs. Predators fans have already witnessed this intensity but only from the friendly confines of the average American couch or perhaps one of the viewing parties around town. But Nashville will finally get to witness conference semi-final action up close and personal on 501 Broadway. The gold out will be in full effect with a chance of catfish and standing ovations when the Canucks come to visit Tuesday night.
Predator fever has even extended outside of Bridgestone Arena. Over the past two weeks, I have seen more Predators gear than ever before. I never thought I would see so many bandwagon fans either. Never before has there been a reason to jump on the Nashville Predator bandwagon. But more importantly, the interest in hockey has grown across the mid-state. The popularity of ice and inline hockey leagues have grown over the past few years. Tennessee ranks 4th in the nation in increase of USA Hockey registrations over the past 10 years. The popularity of hockey in middle Tennessee will only go up from here, already at it's peak.
The Nashville Predators are carrying a city that just 11 years ago did not know the difference between a hockey puck and a burnt biscuit and could not correctly pronounce the name Patrick Roy. The city has bought in to hockey and the Nashville Predators and is now behind them in their quest for The Cup. The glass ceiling has been raised. The question is if the Predators can once again rise and shatter that ceiling placed on them by low expectations and going up against the Goliath of the NHL Playoffs in the Vancouver Canucks.
If you're heading to Bridgestone Arena Tuesday night in hope of an offensive, high-scoring hockey game then you might want to sell your ticket. Just make sure it finds its way to a Predators fan with an able and ready voice.