Discussing Jason Arnott’s impact on the Washington Capitals

Jason Arnott isn’t the first person to criticize the Washington Capitals’ perceived lack of commitment to defensive hockey. Honestly, just about any person critiquing the team will focus on the team’s play in their own end during the last few seasons.

Yet sometimes it’s not what someone says, but who is actually uttering those words. Much like instances in which a player might be more receptive to the life lessons from a coach if that gentleman owns a championship ring, young players often lean on veterans in tougher times.

It happened with Bill Guerin and the Pittsburgh Penguins, and from the look of things, it might happen with Arnott and the Capitals. Both players came to those teams via understated trade deadline deals, with each squad hoping that their Stanley Cup winning experience might benefit young, on-the-cusp rosters.

The Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg discussed how Arnott’s influence is being felt in the Caps locker room, particularly the emphatic words of center Brooks Laich.

“If it’s somebody else coming in who’s new and just says ‘Well I’m gonna turn everything around here,’ maybe they don’t have the earned respect that Arnie does.So when Arnie says something — ‘Ok, something’s wrong here guys, we’re not gonna win what we want to win unless we fix this specifically’ — players are really gonna listen up and make the changes. And I think he’s done a great, great job of that.”

And so, what specifically has he said?”

“He’s come in and really united the whole group,” Laich said. “[He’s]said ‘Ok listen guys, I know we’re very talented and we’re great with the puck, but if we want to win what we want to win, we have to play on the other side of the puck, we have to play without the puck, we have to play defensively.’ And he’s really helped right the ship in that regard. And I can’t say enough about him.”

Bruce Boudreau is doing an outstanding job of ushering in a greater sense of defensive responsibility in Washington, but there’s only so much a coach can do. The players must also absorb those lessons, so having a guy who’s been through playoff battles can be a valuable asset (even if some might overrate that experience just a bit).

Of course, Arnott didn’t come to the Capitals to be a hard-nosed defensive forward, so it doesn’t hurt that he has been productive (four goals and three assists for seven points in 10 games) in the offensive end either.

Video: Trisha Yearwood sings national anthem for Preds-Ducks

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Keith Urban sang the national anthem for Game 3. Kelly Clarkson did the honors for the Nashville Predators before Game 4. Next up: Trisha Yearwood for Game 6.

The Predators hope to close out the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, and they got off to a nice start with Austin Watson scoring a quick 1-0 goal. Not long after, the Predators added another to build to a 2-0 lead.

Garth Brooks spoiled Yearwood’s appearance a bit before the contest.

Brooks also revealed Yearwood’s early fan creds:

Nick Ritchie ejected after boarding, bloodying Viktor Arvidsson (Video)

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Anaheim Ducks forward Nick Ritchie scored a goal in Game 4, but he won’t be able to provide such a scoring boost for his team in Game 6.

That’s because he was ejected during the first period after hitting rising Nashville Predators star Viktor Arvidsson from behind, bloodying the slick Swede.

Ritchie was whistled for a game misconduct and major. Remarkably, the Ducks killed the entire five-minute power-play opportunity, with Ryan Kesler‘s shorthanded chance being one of the better opportunities for either team.

It’s still a big blunder, but if the Ducks can get back in it, remember that big kill.

Video of the hit is coming soon. For now, check out the GIF:

Oddly, Arvidsson left the ice with a wound that more or less spelled out “R,” presumably for Ritchie, maybe celebrating the return of “Twin Peaks.”

(Such an obvious move might not be surreal enough for David Lynch, though. Alex Prewitt’s Zorro reference might be more, um, on the mark.)

Video: Predators storm off to 2-0 lead, beguile Bernier early on

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It was already loud at Bridgestone Arena, but the Nashville Predators are making it a madhouse with a strong start against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6.

First, it was Austin Watson, who sent a puck off a Ducks skate to score a 1-0 goal on Nashville’s first shot on Jonathan Bernier, who is starting instead of John Gibson. That came about 90 seconds into the game, really revving up the crowd.

Colton Sissons scored his first goal of the Western Conference Final – on his first shot on goal of the series – to make it 2-0. At that point, Bernier had allowed two goals on three shots on goal. Bernier’s made a few stops since then, but it’s a shaky start for a Ducks team facing elimination.

There’s some solace in that Anaheim’s often at its best in dire situations, though you have to wonder how many times they can bounce back from this?

No Mike Fisher or Craig Smith for Predators in Game 6

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The Anaheim Ducks won’t have John Gibson back, but the Nashville Predators are dealing with some injury-related letdowns, too.

Craig Smith skated before Game 6, but he opted not to play on Monday. Mike Fisher is also unable to go for the Predators as they aim to eliminate Anaheim.

The Ducks also won’t have Rickard Rakell back in the mix, so this physical Western Conference Final continues to feel like a battle of attrition.

Click here for the official roster report.

Game 5 is airing on NBCSN right now. You can watch online and via the NBC Sports App.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE.