First off, I need to differentiate that this post is different than our normal post game story. For the first time in four years, I attended a Predators game purely as a "fan" of the game.
Thanks to the Nashville Predators and my ticket rep, Rebecca Swan, for accommodating my request to be seated in handicapped chair seating so that I attend what turned out to be one of the more memorable games in the team's history.
In spite of being in my fourth year as a member of the unique, "Bloggers Row," I have maintained my season tickets having been an original "day one" season ticket holder as one of the folks that stepped up to help fulfill the 12,000 season ticket holder requirement in order for Nashville's NHL franchise to become a reality.
Most of you probably do not realize that I underwent major abdominal surgery lest than two weeks ago where I received an eight inch cut to the belly in order to have three feet of intestine removed. All went well and the prognosis is good, but in the interim, I am in the midst of being severely limited in what I can physically do.
Therefore, the accommodation by the team to seat me in the special seating in section 120 was the only way I would be able to safely and comfortably attend the game.
Sitting in the press box and being focused on trying to find a unique angle for a game story really changes your perspective on the game. There is much more that needs to be done that simply enjoying the game. Even for road games on television, where you pour through statistics and look for key points of the game, it is still like work.
So to have the rare opportunity to sit up close and enjoy the game was a real treat. The fact that the Predators beat the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 to close out the first round series 4-1, made it a top five game in Predators history.
Going back to the first season in 1998-99 when Nashville won one out of the six contests between the teams, the Wings were the measuring stick that the Preds measured themselves with.
Through the years, the teams became more evenly matched but the Predators lost playoff series with Detroit in 2004-05 and 2007-08 by 4-2 margins.
The Predators never finished ahead of Detroit in the standings until this season and on Friday night, they put the exclamation point on that statement by winning their first playoff series over the Wings.
It was fitting that the original Predator and Michigan native, David Legwand picked up the game winning goal. It was also apropos that the best forward that the franchise ever drafted, Alexander Radulov, returned to Smashville to score a goal and pick up an assist to contribute to the win.
The other hero of the evening was the Smashville faithful who never sat down in the final period after Legwand gave the Predators a 2-1 lead just 13 seconds into the final period.
Records were sat for the number of TV time out standing ovations and the level of noise that carried through the final period. The fans were as much a part of the inspiration for the win as anything else in Bridgestone Arena.
For one night, I was there, in the midst of the bedlam in the lower bowl and I was reminded of the passion and devotion of the Nashville crowd that had origins in the days of Tom Fitzgerald, Greg Johnson, and Cliff Ronning and has grown with the team that is now a serious Stanley Cup contender in 2012.
The passion and devotion of the fans is the heart of Smashville. Hat's off to all who call themselves residents of the loudest arena in the NHL.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass