The Nashville Predators required a shot of adrenaline, and the front office tried to do that by firing head coach Peter Laviolette. He joins a long list of head coaches that have been fired this season, which includes the Predators’ current head coach, John Hynes. After sending Laviolette to the street, the Predators picked up the Devils’ scraps and hired Hynes. He was of course fired by the Devils earlier in the season as a result of a slow start.
The Devils were expected to be a counter this year, but fell on their faces with Hynes at the controls. Not much progress has been made since Hynes was fired, so Nashville may have looked at that as one reason for hiring him. In any case, it’s good news for Hynes who is back in charge behind an NHL bench.
Hynes made his head coaching debut with the Predators on Tuesday and it was the same old. Following a 5-4 loss in a shootout versus the Ducks on Sunday, the Predators followed it up with a 6-2 loss against Boston. That shot of adrenaline that the front office was hoping for with Laviolette getting fired didn’t go too swimmingly, at least not initially. The Predators are still in the thick of things in the Western Conference, though with a record of 19-16-7 and 45 points in the Central Division, they cannot allow this season to go from bad to worse under Hynes.
As far as the players are concerned, a head coaching change didn’t seem to resonate with the Predators. The effort wasn’t there, as the Bruins made early work of the Preds. Pekka Rinne, who has looked like a shell of his former self, took it on the chin in that contest. He allowed 5 goals on 35 shots to finish with a 0.857 save percentage. It’s the second game in three showings that Rinne has yielded at least 4 goals. In the game he did play well, it was against the lowly Kings.
The Blackhawks are next on the docket for the Predators. It’s one thing to struggle against a powerhouse like the Bruins, but if they aren’t up to compete against the Blackhawks, that’s not going to be a good sign at all. Hynes is not going to be in a pleasant spot if there is zero fire from the Predators tonight. Chicago are coming off a tight 2-1 loss against the Flames on Tuesday. It was a commendable effort by a defence who’ve been thin on depth with the loss of Brent Seabrook and Calvin de Haan. Head below for our free Predators vs. Blackhawks pick.
Nashville Predators vs. Chicago Blackhawks Betting Odds:
Predators vs. Blackhawks Prediction:
With P.K. Subban struggling in New Jersey, the best move the Predators have appeared to make is trading him to the Devils. His absence on the blue line is being felt hard in Nashville, but he’s regressed hard in New Jersey. The former version of Subban is missed greatly for the Predators. That said, it was a wise move to shed his contract as an aging 30-year-old defenceman.
It may not look like it when the Predators haven’t looked like a playoff team in 2019-20, though this season would look a lot uglier with Subban’s contract and not many wins to show for it. The Predators addressed the offence in the offseason with that freed up money. Former Avalanche and Senator, Matt Duchene, who was a rental for the Blue Jackets at the trade deadline last season, signed in Nashville with the Predators for seven years and $56 million.
For that price tag, the Predators were expecting more than 9 goals and 20 assists at this point in the season. There’s still a chance for him to get hot in the second-half, though. He returned to action against the Bruins after a brief bout with an illness. Duchene’s presence was insignificant in the 6-2 loss, but he did put an assist on the stat sheet. Offensively, there hasn’t been concerns in Nashville this year. This is a unit who are ranked 6th in the league with 3.4 goals scored per game. With that kind of offensive production, they should be looking at something better than 45 points.
The defence has been a liability for them, and the hits keep coming recently. Ryan Ellis has been placed on the IR, and Dante Fabbro is dealing with an upper-body injury. He was unavailable against the Kings, Ducks, and Bruins. They missed him against the Ducks and Bruins. In the Predators’ previous ten games, they’ve surrendered 3.9 goals against per game, while the goal scorers have been trying to carry the load. With 3.7 goals netted on average, the offence did their part but not enough to erase their defensive lapses.
Despite only 1 goal in their last outing, the Blackhawks scored an average of 4.4 goals per game following the Christmas break in five games. They should look solid against the Predators in this one. Chicago have to expect a pretty aggressive attack by the Predators here, though. The Blackhawks’ defensive zone should be under pressure often on Thursday night. It likely takes 4 goals to win at the United Center between the Predators and Blackhawks.