I've been fortunate enough to cover a lot of big games and see a bunch of cool atmospheres over the years. I've been to Super Bowls, Final Fours, and NBA playoff games just to name a few.
But I've never been a part of a scene like game three of the Stanley Cup Final.
Bridgestone Arena was ready an hour before puck drop. Every seat was full and people stood and cheered throughout warm-ups. Players on both sides say they have never seen anything quite like it.
"Mind blowing," said Predators forward Harry Zolnierczyk.
And that was just inside. Outside of Bridgestone Arena, the plaza was so packed the fire marshall had to evacuate it for safety reasons. And there were 50,00 more people lined down the street.
Smashville's been the talk of the playoffs and boy, did it live up to the hype.
Everyone kept asking me going into game three, "is it really that loud?"
"Is it really that crazy?"
Just watch and listen, I told them, many of them still skeptical.
The reviews today have been overwhelming.
The great play-by-play announcer Doc Emrick told me, "I've been in loud places before. I've been in raucous places before, and this was certainly one of them. The decibels were probably as high as any place I've ever been involved in and the people were as passionate as I've ever seen."
ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose called it the "most fun I've ever had at a hockey game."
Longtime hockey writer Dave Stubbs tweeted, "I worked Montreal's Bell Centre in full, deafening roar. Nashville's punishing thunder tonight is louder than that."
Everyone seemed to love Smashville, except KDKA Pittsburgh sports anchor Rich Walsh who tweeted, "Seriously not impressed... Both Washington and Columbus had louder venues."
It's possible Rich is just sticking up for the city where he makes his living and calls home, which is understandable. Pittsburgh's had it's feathers ruffled this week with a Tennessee catfish finding it's way on to the PPG Arena ice and all.
So instead of going all in with decibel readings that dwarf either of the buildings he mentioned, or talking about how Smashville was louder during timeouts last night than Pittsburgh was during wins in games one and two, I'll just let this picture serve as evidence of the noise.
— Brandy Belcher (@BrandyBelcher1) June 4, 2017
Smashville rests its case.