NASHVILLE – There’s this scene early on in “Ocean’s 11” when Danny Ocean is explaining to the other 10 thieves how the amount of money in the vaults of the three casinos they’re knocking off can fluctuate. On a weeknight, there’s $70 million; on a weekend, there’s $90 million; on a fight night, like the one the night when they were going to rob them, at least $150 million.
Nashville has its own kind of time-specific escalation for Predators games, according to P.K. Subban. It’s crazy around the arena on a weeknight. It’s much crazier on a Saturday night, what with people from around the region coming to party on Broadway.
But on a Saturday night, for the first Stanley Cup Final home game in franchise history, like the one the Predators are going to have on this Saturday night?
“I think it’ll be one of the best sports atmospheres, definitely in NHL history,” Subban said.
The Predators feed off that crowd, going 7-1 at home in the playoffs. The Penguins are 5-4 on the road this postseason, and they know they’re walking into one of the loudest arenas in pro sports these days.
“You have to be aware of it because we’ve all been in buildings where it’s a factor,” said captain Sidney Crosby of the fan enthusiasm. “We watch games on TV. We can see they play a pretty inspired game here. I think just try to go with the same mindset we have on the road all playoffs long. We know they feed off their crowd. Hopefully we can get on them early.”
The cheers are loud. The mockery is also prevalent at Predators’ home games, from the car with the Penguins logo on it that’s slowly being demolished by sledgehammers in front of the arena to the “it’s all your fault!” chants that serenade opposing goalies.
“Yeah, I think you don’t try to ignore it. Obviously it’s going to be there,” said goalie Matt Murray. “At the end of the day, that doesn’t really affect what I need to do out there. What happens outside the glass once the puck is dropped really should have no impact. That’s kind of how I try to keep my focus, is just to do my thing and try to do my job the best I can.”
Murray is 8-6 in his playoff career on the road, including the Stanley Cup clincher last season in San Jose. His coach believes having played in the Shark Tank prepares this group for what’s going down in Smashville on Saturday night.
“I don’t think it’s anything our players haven’t seen in the past. Last year, at almost the same time of year, we went into a building in San Jose that’s one of the loudest in the league,” said Mike Sullivan.
“I think it’s something that our guys are excited about. It’s a fun environment. It doesn’t get any better.”
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