Lamoriello backs DeBoer amidst Devils’ winless start

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The New Jersey Devils have yet to win a game this season, going 0-3-4 through their first seven contests.

A bad start, sure, but not enough for Lou Lamoriello to push the panic button.

The Devils GM gave head coach Peter DeBoer and his staff a vote of confidence on Friday, saying they — along with the Devils players — are trying their hardest to bump the slump.

“The coaching staff is doing everything they can,” Lamoriello told the New Jersey Star-Ledger. “So are the players. They’re working at it. We have to be more consistent in certain areas.”

DeBoer confirmed he had the GM’s backing.

“Lou’s been very positive with what we’re doing,” he explained. “No one is happy we’re losing.”

The Devils are suggesting a brutal opening road stretch — they played six of their first seven away from Prudential — is a big reason for the early woes. Problem is, things aren’t about get any easier on the travel front as the Devils will play five of their next nine on the road as well.

(If you’re wondering when the schedule gets favorable for New Jersey, look at the late stages of the season. The Devils have a five-game homestand from Mar. 18-27, and play 10 of their final 14 games at Prudential.)

While DeBoer’s job appears to be safe, this is the Devils we’re talking about. Lamoriello can be unpredictable and has displayed an itchy trigger finger before, eschewing the ideas of “staying the course” and “sticking to the process” should losses pile up too high — like they did under John MacLean, who was fired after just nine wins in 33 games to start the 2010-11 season.

For Lamoriello, it’s all about victories.

“We didn’t win and the bottom line is winning,” he said following a 5-2 defeat in Ottawa. “There’s no question.”

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.

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