I’m sure many people in Nashville never thought they’d spend the day worried about a hockey game. But, that is where we are, in this city, with this team. Nashville will play in San Jose tonight at 8pm central time on NBC Sports Network with a chance to advance to the Western Conference Finals. With a win tonight, the Nashville Predators would be in the NHL Final Four. Think about that for a minute. Before this year, this franchise had been in the 2nd Round twice in seventeen seasons. That’s 11.7% of seasons. This team, obviously, became the 3rd to win a playoff series and advance into the second round. And with this run, this Predators team has taken over the city of Nashville.
This team has been the most important of the seventeen. They have been embraced by Preds fans, many of whom believe that this is the best Preds team ever. The regular season numbers don’t line up statistically to allow you to draw that conclusion. But the eye test does. This is a gutty grew of self made players that clearly play every game, every period, every shift for each other. That is why this amazing city has gone all in. Nashvillians live their lives like that. We live life with creativity, with hard work, with belief in others that choose to call this great city home and with a strong self-will. Nashville is the best city in America because of those collective qualities. Qualities, so many in this city share. Qualities that the players in that Predators locker room share. This hockey team and this city are one. That is where we now sit, win or lose tonight. This is the team that has transformed this market.
It’s amazing to think back to the Nashville I grew up in. As a kid in my Nashville neighborhood we played baseball, we had neighborhood football games, we went to Julia Green Elementary school and shot basketball. A lot. We even played tennis. We never, ever thought about hockey. I don’t think my friends and I were alone. Through clear vision by many smarter than me and with a lot of hard work by a lot of people, the Predators have become an integral element to our amazing city.
If you still haven’t watched, tune in tonight. You will be impressed by the effort level of this never-say-die group. The Predators were heavy underdogs in the Round One match up with Pacific Division winner, Anaheim. Todd Fuhrman ( @ToddFuhrman ) is a regular contributor to our sports talk show (3HL). He is our point-spread expert and joins us weekly from Las Vegas. At one time, Todd sett the lines at Caesar’s Sports Book in Las Vegas. He knows his stuff and he is right far more than he is wrong. He picked Anaheim in that series and said he thought the Ducks would play for the Stanley Cup. Every ESPN analyst picked the Ducks to beat the Predators. All ten. Willy Daunic and Stu Grimson said on the Predators Fox Sports TN broadcast of Game 1 of the series with Anaheim that they found 54 analyst predictions and 51 picked the Ducks. That’s as heavy of an underdog as you can be in a round one playoff series. The Preds lost Game 5 of that series in Anaheim 5-2 and it looked like all hope was lost. It wasn’t. Not with this group. They play their best with their backs against the wall. They won games 6 and 7. They survived and advanced. Meanwhile, Anaheim was looking for a coach.
So it was on to San Jose. Our guy Furhman again picked the Preds to lose. And, they did just that in Games 1 and 2. They were down 2-0 to San Jose. Nashville needed to win 3 of 4 to force another Game 7. They. Did. Just. That. I still can’t get over what happened in Game 4. Triple Overtime provided this team another example to display their heart and soul.
As we await another Game 7, this one in San Jose, I look for symmetry in numbers. I find none. The Predators have never won a playoff game in San Jose. But, the Predators have never lost a playoff Game 7. They’re 1-0. Peter Laviolette is 5-0 in his last 5 game 7s. Adam Vingan with the Tennessean wrote that Laviolette is the first coach in NHL history to win 5 game 7s in a row. Fuhrman said about Game 7 that the Sharks are a heavy favorite and he thinks San Jose will advance. We tweeted that from @3HL1045. Nashville Predators President and Chief Operating Officer, Sean Henry responded on twitter with this: @PREDSident:
@3HL1045 @ToddFuhrman So many great responses but @Subdiva (His wife) and work Twitter conscience (@DShaklan) won’t let me post them. I love it.
Can they get it done again? The Predators are 3-0 in elimination games this season. They fight, claw, scrap, work for each other and together to keep this season going. I hope they’re able to get it done again tonight. I am so nervous as I write this and I am so excited at the same time. Win or lose, this is the team that has forced this city to go all in.
It’s been amazing to watch everyone pulling in the same direction. I went to Game 4 with my wife, Kelly. Noted Preds hater Clay Travis rode to the game with us. After the game, Clay said he was now a Preds fan. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota joined us last week on 3HL and said he was impressed with his playoff experience in Bridgestone, “It just shows how passionate this community is about their sports and if we (Titans) get this thing headed in the right direction I know Nissan Stadium will be just as loud as Bridgestone.” The Preds have raised the bar. Titans General Manager Jon Robinson hopped on with us to talk about his draft class. He offered this about the Predators, “The way they scrap and claw and just find ways to win. It’s pretty impressive. It’s a testament to what they’ve got going there. We’ve thrown our rally flags behind them, that’s for sure. We’re rooting for them.” University of Tennessee football coach Butch Jones joined us Tuesday at the Big Orange Caravan event in Franklin. He led by saying, “First of all how about the Predators, huh? Game seven. I’m excited to be in Nashville with all of the positive energy and excitement.”
We’re all in. The entire city is all in. Now, lets get Game 7. I will not doubt this group’s ability to find a way.
Prediction: Predators 3, San Jose 1. Go Preds! #StandWithUs