John Hynes got a good look at his new team during his first game behind the bench on Tuesday night.
The evening ended with a 6-2 score favoring the Boston Bruins over the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena, a result that ends Nashville’s two-game point streak.
Hired roughly 12 hours earlier as the third head coach in franchise history, it was a whirlwind day for Hynes and the Preds. The bench boss stated at his introductory lunchtime press conference that he wouldn’t implement much ahead of the game, and by the time the night was through, he had made plenty of observations.
“I would say that in tonight’s game there were a lot of ups and downs,” Hynes said. “There were some moments where we played really well and we had some strong identity things that we want to be able to do and then there were some times that we weren’t consistent enough in those areas. I think that’s a big learning lesson coming out of this game. But, I think there are a lot of positives now having been on the bench with the players and gone through a game and seeing the ups and downs.”
It took the NHL’s leading scorer, David Pastrnak, less than two minutes into the contest to put his club up 1-0, and that held into the second where Danton Heinen put the Bruins up by two midway through the middle stanza.
A Predators power play soon followed, and on the 5-on-3 advantage, Filip Forsberg blasted home his team-leading 15th goal of the season to get the home team on the board. Preds Captain Roman Josi assisted on the strike to extend his career-best point streak to 11 games.
Before the second period was out however, Patrice Bergeron capitalized on a Boston man advantage to put the Bruins back up by two, and although Mikael Granlund scored another power-play goal for the Predators, the visitors added three more in the third.
“The first wasn’t good,” Josi said. “They were in the zone a lot of times, and we didn’t get a lot of offense. I thought in the second we actually played a little better, got some good looks and some good chances. In the third we didn’t have the push we wanted. We’re down 3-1 and you’ve got to have a push. We get scored on quick and then we couldn’t really get it going in the third.”
With his first contest as head coach now complete, Hynes says he’s eager to get to work and find a way for his new team to play to the level they’re capable of achieving. It starts Wednesday ahead of Thursday’s game at Chicago, the first of the final 40 of the regular season.
“There are going to be tactical things that you’re going to do, and any time you teach people, you can’t overwhelm, so it’s got to be very specific things that they can work on and things that are essential that we feel are going to be better,” Hynes said. “Then, we just keep building and building. But the most important thing, I think, is the mentality and how we play for each other, the camaraderie in the room and building the belief in being consistent. I think that will build over time.
“I’m really excited to get back in the rink tomorrow and get better, and then get better the morning of the Chicago game. We’ll be a better team then.”
Just like Hynes, Nashville’s players also still have plenty of belief in themselves – that much is certain. But they also know with the season now over halfway through, time is beginning to turn against them.
“I’m proud of the way the guys competed, but compete isn’t enough in this League, and especially against a team like that,” Preds forward Matt Duchene said. “Lots of games left, but we’ve got to start right away. We’ll obviously make some changes to what we’re doing out there, and we’ll push forward. We have a heck of a hockey team in here, and we know that. Hopefully this is just one of those things that makes us stronger and we end up where we want to be at the end of the day and we look back at this and be grateful for it, but we’ve got some work to do in the meantime.”
Matt Duchene returned to the Nashville lineup on Tuesday night after missing the previous two games due to illness. Dante Fabbro, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, missed his third-straight contest.
With their first home game of 2020 complete, the Predators now head back out on the road for three games, and it starts on Thursday night in Chicago (at 7:30 p.m. CT) when they face the Blackhawks.