Muller facing uncertain future in Carolina

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Kirk Muller’s seen plenty of ups and downs during his three years as Hurricanes coach — evident by his 78-79-27 record — and now, having failed to make the postseason for a third straight year, he’s unsure what his future in Carolina holds.

From the Raleigh News & Observer:

Muller has a year remaining on his contract. He said he has gotten no assurances from team owner Peter Karmanos Jr. or management about next season but hopes to return.

“We’ve got a good group of young guys,” he said. “As far as this year we’re not happy we didn’t make the playoffs, but I want to be around to turn this thing around. I want to get this team in the right direction.”

And here’s more, from the New York Post:

It is, according to sources, a fait accompli in Carolina that Kirk Muller will be dismissed a head coach at the conclusion of the season by incoming GM Ron Francis. The Candy Canes have made the playoffs once in eight seasons since winning the 2006 Stanley Cup.

Put it all together, and it promises to be a major summer of change in Raleigh. As mentioned by the Post, current GM Jim Rutherford will be reportedly replaced by Francis, so it’s unsurprising to hear that Muller could also be on his way out — most incoming GMs are keen to hire their guys, as opposed to inheriting someone brought aboard by the old regime.

That said, it does sounds as though Muller’s holding out hope for a return to the ‘Canes next season.

“From a personal way of viewing it, I think I look at it though as we’re on the right track,” he explained. “I know that’s not easy to explain short of getting into all the details, but I think we’ve looked at some different areas we’ve improved on and I think we’re in the right direction.”

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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