Could Norris winner Karlsson average 30 minutes per game?

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The Ottawa Senators have no problem leaning heavily on 22-year-old Erik Karlsson — and why should they? Karlsson captured the Norris Trophy last season and is widely regarded as one of the best offensive defensemen in the league.

Still, could they really use him in roughly half of every game?

Karlsson has averaged 28:17 minutes per contest this season and he’s logged over 30 minutes in each of his last two games. That’s an unreal amount of work, but he doesn’t seem to mind.

“(The media) keeps better track of that than I do,” Karlsson said in an Ottawa Citizen report.

“I feel great. It feels like I can play more if I want. As long as my body feels good, I don’t have any issues. We’re 10 games in and there are still 38 to go and more than that, hopefully (with the playoffs). You’ve just got to try and take care of your body every day and stay in shape.”

Karlsson took Wednesday’s practice off to give him some time off the ice, but when it comes to games, Senators coach Paul MacLean primarily lets Karlsson play as much as he wants to.

“I guess there is (a risk) with the compacted schedule, but he’s a pretty young guy,” MacLean said.

“There’s always a risk, whether you’re playing 15 (minutes) or 20 or 25 or 30, but he has the capability of handling the 30 minutes. A lot of times, the game, and how the team is playing, dictates it. Right now, we feel he’s at a level that he can keep playing. His fitness level is a big part of it.”

38-year-old defenseman Sergei Gonchar’s (flu) return might cut into Karlsson’s playing time, but Karlsson logged over 29 minutes in the last contest Gonchar participated in.

No player has averaged more than 30 minutes a season since Chris Pronger did it in 1999-2000. Due to his efforts, Pronger joined Bobby Orr as one of the only two players to ever win the Norris and Hart Trophies in a single season.

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.