One thing we’re learning throughout the early going of 2022-23 is that Nashville Predators Head Coach John Hynes is finally starting to put his stamp on this team, for better or worse. You can be the judge of that.
The Predators were on a five-game losing streak heading into a pivotal matchup on Thursday with the St. Louis Blues, and they ended up busting out for a convincing 6-2 win after Hynes shook up the line combinations.
Hynes’ gamble, at least for one game, paid off. He made Eeli Tolvanen a healthy scratch, moved the young Cody Glass to a top-six center role, shifted Mikael Granlund to wing, and moved his prized offseason acquisition Ryan McDonagh to the bottom defensive pairing.
Did I miss anything?
Nashville Predators are still a Work-In-Progress
The point is, Hynes is showing is not going to be a cookie cutter coach that goes with the status quo. It might blow up in his face, but for the time being, he’s showing he is willing to be creative.
Hynes is making crucial in-game decisions as well. In the win over the Blues, the Predators were clinging to a razor thin 3-2 lead heading into the third period. This team had already blown two multi-goal leads in the third period prior this season, so nothing felt safe here.
Per Emma Lingan of the team’s official website, Hynes went into detail for why he decided to bench Glass for most of the third period after moving him up to the top-six going into the game:
Here is more of Hynes’ quote that stood out to me most and further illustrates that he is a player’s coach, even if the decision might not be popular in the moment:
“And I just thought he looked like he was playing like he didn’t want to make a mistake. He looked a little bit like the pressure of playing in the top six affected him a bit.” Hynes on benching Glass in 3rd Period against the Blues
First off, this should be completely expected and not a surprise from a young player like Glass. He’s only human, right? Moving up to an elevated role like that is going to force you to press a bit and make some uncharacteristic mistakes that maybe you wouldn’t make on the fourth line.
To Hynes’ credit, he plans to give Glass another opportunity to center in the top six tonight against the Capitals, which is the right decision in my mind.
The decision to healthy scratch Tolvanen on Thursday perplexes me. It makes me wonder what’s the overall future plans for Tolvanen with this organization. It’s not as if he’s played horribly this season, and he himself saw top-six minutes already in the first eight games.
Again, it worked out for Hynes against the Blues. He came out looking like the smartest person in the room despite getting a lot of flak going into game for some of these decisions.
The Nashville Predators fourth line had a huge impact against the Blues, with Michael McCarron scoring the tying goal, and Zach Sanford scoring on a gorgeous wraparound goal to put the Predators ahead for good.
Granlund on the wing is intriguing. It could hopefully open up his goal scoring more. He’s had no problems piling up the assists, but his goal production has been virtually non-existent. Just one goal this season after scoring just 11 goals in 80 games in 2021-22.
McDonagh on the third pairing, as odd as it looks on paper, could be something to carry forward in the long-term. I like the idea of having three experienced veteran players scattered across all three pairings.
This is a work-in-progress early in the season for the Nashville Predators, and you’d rather be working out the kinks now rather than when the calendar flips over to 2023.
Hynes is trying to find the right winning formula for this team right now, and you have to at least give him some credit for at least trying and not sitting idly offering no solutions.