Devils coach on playing Martin Brodeur: “We’re going to load him up with games”

Shortly after Martin Brodeur won his 15th game with an emotional 4-3 shootout victory over the Rangers, New Jersey head coach Peter DeBoer said it wouldn’t be long before Brodeur had a chance for win No. 16.

And then 17.

And then 18.

And so on…and so forth.

“As long as the schedule allows, we’re going to load him up with games,” DeBoer told the Star-Ledger.

“I think Marty’s going to get a lot of starts, but I’m a little reluctant to change our back-to-back philosophy,” he added. “Just because our back-to-back record has been excellent, and part of that has been because both goaltenders have played pretty well.”

The Devils only have four back-to-backs left in the season, suggesting Brodeur will see plenty of action down the stretch. Some might bristle at the idea of DeBoer riding his 39-year-old goalie hard (there’s gotta be a better way to say that), especially since Brodeur only played 56 games a year ago and, with a 23-26-3 record, posted his first losing season ever.

But this is the same Brodeur that led the NHL in appearances (77) just two years ago and hasn’t given up more than three goals in his last eight starts. There’s also the not-so-small issue of Brodeur wrecking shop in the shootout — he’s 4-1 this year and has only allowed two goals, posting one of the league’s top save percentages, which is huge considering the Devils have participated in a league-high 11 shootouts.

As for what Brodeur thinks of getting “loaded up” with games despite the fact he turns 40 in May?

“It’s just a number,” he told the New York Times. “You can let it affect you if you think about it all the time.”

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

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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.

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