In my past 21 years of life, I haven't spent much time watching hockey. For the majority of my childhood I was raised in the South (Atlanta to be specific) and had little knowledge or exposure to hockey. At the University of Alabama, I have made some friends from Tennessee that have introduced me to this amazing sport.

The Nashville Predators have accomplished so much. They have overcome incredible odds in the playoffs, introduced thousands of Southerners to hockey and have created one of the greatest fan bases in sports. Every American (not just Southerners) should be pulling for the Preds to win it all (unless you're from Anaheim or Pittsburgh).There are lots of reasons to cheer for the Predators. Here are a few:

The Underdog

The Nashville Predators are most definitely the underdogs in the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. During round one of the playoffs, the Nashville Predators (number 8 seed) had to face off against The Chicago Blackhawks (number 1 seed). The Predators swept the Blackhawks during the series, making the Predators the first number 8 seed in the history of the NHL to sweep a number 1 seed. That has never been done in NBA history either. The Predators shocked the entire country with this feat and it got the people going. 

Most Rowdy Fans In Hockey

Walker Bowen

They brought a new sport to the south. What did y'all expect? The Predators fans are the same fans that eat, breath, live and die routing for SEC football. Everyone in or around Nashville is cheering for the Predators and the fans are crazy. Between cheering fans and rock jams being blasted before and during, the games are so hype. Even the Tennessee Titans offensive line was seen chugging beers before the game

Southern people love sports, especially violent ones. Football and hockey have a lot in common. There are brutal hits throughout the game just like in football, but some things are even better. Not only do fights frequently happen, but the fans encourage it! It is not uncommon to see the players duke it out on the ice. At the end of Game 5, vs. the Ducks, there were about four fights happening on the ice at the same time! It's pretty wild. 

The Best National Anthem in Sports

The Predators have it all. Talent, awesome fans, and the greatest city in NHL history to play in; right in the heart of Music City. It's no secret that Nashville is full of fun and entertainment. The Preds always seem to have a famous singer singing the National Anthem before every game. The last game opened with the National Anthem sung by Kelly Clarkson. Earlier in the playoffs, Carrie Underwood (who is also the wife of Nashville Predators team Captain; Mike Fisher) sang the Nation Anthem.

The Players

Nashville has the best players (with some of the best names) in hockey. Pekka Rinne is an unstoppable goalie from Finland. He has prevented some incredible shots from being scored by the opposition in the playoffs. P.K. Subban, a Toronto native has been one hell of a defense man during the playoffs. His slap shots fire out like a cannon, and  has has dished and taken some of the most brutal hits during the playoffs. Filip Forsberg (Sweden native) has been the most persistent and entertaining players to watch during the playoffs. Forsberg is always putting the puck towards the net, and getting in the middle of every play. He constantly takes a beating on the ice but gets right back up (usually with the puck). With forward Ryan Johansen and Captain Mike Fisher out for injury, Forsberg stepped up to help lead his team to an incredible victory over the Anaheim Ducks in Game 5. 

Honorable mentions:

Roman Josi, James Neal, Mattias Ekholm, and Ryan Ellis (Best Beard in Hockey). 

Tune in tonight to at 8:00 eastern time to see the Nashville Predators take on the Anaheim Ducks. With both series (Ducks vs. Preds and Senators vs. Penguins) tied at 3-2, we are in for a very exciting next couple or few NHL playoff games. It's coming down to the wire and the Nashville Predators have the chance to take the Stanley Cup home. Go Preds! #Smashville