Nashville Predators: Two Weaknesses John Hynes Can Fix Quickly

Head coach John Hynes of the Nashville Predators (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Head coach John Hynes of the Nashville Predators (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

It’s not going to happen instantly, but new Nashville Predators head coach John Hynes can change two critical weaknesses in quick order.

I’m of the belief that the remainder of this regular season for the Nashville Predators is going to fall more on the players than it is new head coach John Hynes. They have to show what they’re really made of and play up to their potentials.

What Hynes can change is minor things here and there that can make a huge impact over the coming weeks. Some of these minor tweaks, which he’s already been reportedly doing in practice, can change things instantly.

Perhaps we’ve already seen that in the first win of the Hynes era on Thursday night when the Predators defeat the Blackhawks 5-2. The players seemed to be in the right places at the right time to make quality plays both defensively and when on the offensive attack.

Hynes has a very organized and creative coaching approach, according to a piece from Kevin Allen on the Nashville Predators official website. This could be what the Predators were missing all along this season.  A fresh approach from a young head coach with new ideas.

Fix special teams

This is a glaring weakness that has to start showing gradual improvement right now, otherwise the Predators are going to be keep flirting with missing the playoffs for the first time in the last five seasons.

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Former head coach Peter Laviolette took the Predators to the playoffs every single season, but got ousted just last week because the team is falling significantly short of expectations and struggling in a lot of key areas, including special teams.

Hynes is hopefully focusing on being better on the penalty kill. Penalties are inevitable, and your team has to be reliable enough to get big penalty kills when a call doesn’t go your way or when taking a penalty is sometimes necessary.

Far too often this season when the Predators take a penalty with the game on the line, it feels like they’ve already signed their death warrant. The loss to the Canucks in late November when they scored five power play goals stills haunts me at night.

The Predators currently rank tied for 30th with the Red Wings for the worst penalty kill in the NHL. Even if the Predators do sneak into the playoffs, they won’t sniff getting past the first round with this liability of a penalty kill.

Hynes can start making adjustments and seeing why the Predators are so bad in this area because he’s bringing an outsider’s perspective and a fresh point of view. It could be something very minor that can end up changing this whole season.

The power play isn’t as bad as last season, but it’s still in the bottom half of the NHL. He can make changes in this area as well, and already seemed like he did in the last game. There was more open ice to operate down the middle for open scoring chances.

Can goaltending be fixed?

Obviously the problems that Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros have faced this season is infuriating. The fact that two highly-skilled and proven goaltenders can suddenly look mediocre at the same time is a major reason why the Predators are on the outside looking in.

What can Hynes do to address this quickly? I don’t think it falls on Rinne and Saros as much as it does putting the players in the right position to limit the opposition from getting these easy chances in the slot.

The Predators aren’t going to win at the rate they need to down the stretch if the goaltending doesn’t get better. A lot of that can naturally be fixed if the penalty kill can start improving.

Hynes also has a tough decision to eventually make on who he wants getting the majority of the starts between Rinne and Saros? Rinne has gotten both starts in Hynes’ first two games.

This has been an ongoing question for the better part of a year now. Who should be getting the primary number of starts? That question still hasn’t been answered due to both of them having their struggles.

If Hynes can figure out a way to tweak these areas and help the team improve, it’ll start yielding positive results. He’s not going to make a huge impact instantaneously. It falls on the veteran players to pull this team together and play smart, disciplined hockey.

The Predators just passed the midway point of their season, and still have games in hand over teams that are ahead of them in the standings.

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Hynes has a great opportunity to help squeeze every ounce of potential out of this team and get them back to the playoffs. He has to fix these areas first, and he has time to do that and coach in the playoffs for just the 2nd time in his NHL head coaching career.