If members of the Nashville Predators are seeking an extra boost of motivation prior to Game Four of the Stanley Cup Final, they need not look far.
Just outside of their locker room on the event level of Bridgestone Arena, hundreds of well-wishes are affixed to the walls. They've come from local charities, schools, churches and elsewhere, from fans young and old, those who have fallen in love with this team over the past two months - or 20 years.
Then, when forward Kevin Fiala suffered a leg injury in Round Two that ended his season, the messages increased tenfold as fans from across the country and around the world sent their thoughts to Fiala and the Preds.
It's continued to grow since then, encompassing the entryway on both sides of the corridor, filled with nothing but support for the group that has done what no Predators team before them had.
"It's just another example of the support this team has - it'd be hard for me to say I'm surprised that they're there," forward Harry Zolnierczyk said. "It's the passion that these fans have for Nashville - the city in general, but right now, this team, too, and we can feel it."
"All the cards we get, people wishing us good luck, it's awesome," defenseman Roman Josi said. "I stopped by last week before practice [to see the cards] and it's awesome. I love reading those and it's great to have all those people behind us."
The Predators added another line to the history books on Saturday when they hosted a Stanley Cup Final game for the first time in franchise history, an accomplishment that wasn't taken lightly. A 5-1 Nashville win turned the night into one that will go down in Music City lore for years to come. And once more, over 17,000 inside Bridgestone Arena, and another 50,000 on Broadway showed the rest of the hockey world the very best of Smashville.
"With 15,000 people cheering us on in warm ups… the atmosphere is unbelievable," Ellis said. "Before the game during the intros, they were doing their thing and it's an incredible feeling playing in front of the fans."
Right before they take to the frozen sheet for Game Four on Monday, with a chance to even the series, the Preds will get one more glimpse of the notes from five-year-old Scott and 10-year-old Brianna. From Jack and Paisley and Keegan. Arianna, Alaina and Alicia, too.
It's just one more element that has played a role in this magical run, one that is still far from over.
"You see it when you're out on the street, you see people hanging flags, people wearing t-shirts, you see the effect you're having on people," Zolnierczyk said. "Then you come into the rink and there's certain things you see. To see the cards and letters and something like that, it's just another thing that constantly reminds us of how much we're inspiring others and we take pride in that."