Bridgestone Arena - Smashville Playoffs 2011 (Photo: Patricia Teter. All Rights Reserved.)

Last season, following the Canucks win over the Blackhawks in the Western Conference Quarter-Finals I realized the next round would provide one of the best opportunities to attend a Canucks’ Stanley Cup playoff game when they traveled to Nashville to play the Predators in the Western Conference Semifinals. At the last moment I purchased tickets, booked a hotel room in downtown and off I went to see the Canucks in Music City. Downtown Nashville was packed with fans and buzzing with excitement. In the hotel, on the street, in the restaurants, you could feel the heightened energy, pervasive all around you. Sitting at an outdoor café on 5th Avenue we watched Predators and Canucks fans stroll south toward the arena, and above our heads Pekka Rinne stood watch, on a massive banner.

A large number of fans from Vancouver were in the city that week to watch games 3 and 4 – they filled our hotel, all proudly wearing their Canuck jerseys. Our first night in town we settled into the hotel bar to watch the Boston vs. Tampa Bay game on the big screen and met our first group of Canucks. Very quickly I learned four things about Vancouver Canuck fans – they love their hockey, they love their beer, they are incredibly funny and very polite. They were also very surprised that a U.S. hockey fan drove ten hours to see the Canucks play! Hey, doesn’t the saying “We are all Canucks” apply to Everyone?

Vancouver Canucks Line Back on the Ice (Photo: Patricia Teter. All Rights Reserved.)

Everything I had heard about Bridgestone Arena and Nashville fans was absolutely true. The arena (seen in the top blog photograph with yellow playoff t-shirts on the seats before the game) can be very loud and that night the sold-out crowd was in top form cheering on their Predators. During the warm-up skate I met many Nashville fans who were the epitome of southern hospitality. Extremely kind and generous, even after they discovered I was there to cheer the opposing team, although I did confess my admiration for the Predators goalie, Pekka Rinne (seen below stretching during the game).

Pekka Rinne, May 5, 2011. (Photo: Patricia Teter. All Rights Reserved.)

If you have never attended an NHL Playoff game, try it at least once in your lifetime! There is a simmering excitement that you do not experience during the regular season. A heightened level of anticipation. Everything is a bit more bright. More colorful. And the game is all the more spectacular. Even if your team does not win. Give it a try! Enjoy what the playoff games offer.

Yes, the Canucks won that night. What a game!

Vancouver Green Men as they crawled up the boxes to visit Nicole Kidman and her husband Keith Urban. (Photo: Patricia Teter. All Rights Reserved.)

Yes, Elvis was in Smashville! (Photo: Patricia Teter. All Rights Reserved.)