Andrew Brunette Getting the Most Out of New-Look Nashville Predators

Oct 24, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators head coach Andrew Brunette calls a timeout during the third period against the Vancouver Canucks at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 24, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators head coach Andrew Brunette calls a timeout during the third period against the Vancouver Canucks at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

If you’re just going based off win-loss record in this very early stage of Andrew Brunette‘s head coaching tenure with the Nashville Predators, you’d say that things have gotten off to a sluggish start. It’s quite the contrary, actually.

The Predators sit at 5-6-0 on the young season, which looks very mediocre on its surface. Outsiders who don’t watch the Predators regularly are probably thinking this team is for sure non-playoff contender and irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.

However, I’ll push against that notion and say that what the Predators are showing us with an ever evolving starting lineup and overhauled philosophy tells me it should only get better as the season rolls on.

Brunette was tasked with the tall order of getting a revamped roster full of puzzle pieces and having to figure out where they best fit. And not a whole lot of time to do it, either.

The first 10 games of the Predators’ 2023-24 schedule proved to be daunting, even so much as the Vancouver Canucks have turned out to be one of the better teams in the NHL so far, and the Predators have taken two of their six losses to them. And both games the Predators had chances to win but fell short in the end.

Impressive wins over the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs and a reeling Edmonton Oilers team are games the old look Predators under Hynes probably don’t win in those scenarios.

Brunette is Getting Early Results & Building a Solid Foundation that Takes Time

It is very clear the style difference when you watch a Predators game and compare it to how they played last season. It’s night and day difference.

All we heard over the offseason after Brunette was hired at the end of May was that things were going to look very different from the John Hynes era. It got fans to take on this hopeful optimism, but there was no guarantee that it was going to immediately catch on and look evident in the first 10 games. But that it did.

The way the Predators, fueled by their younger core, push the puck up the ice aggressively and take chances not only makes for entertaining hockey for the fan, but it also leads to the Predators never being counted out on the scoreboard.

Brunette was advertised as the power play guru, so the spotlight on how quickly he could fix this area of glaring weakness from last season was at the forefront.

After working out some kinks in the first few games, the Predators are showing steady improvement and have moved up to a tie for 12th with the Vegas Golden Knights for power play percentage. Just outside the top-10.

Classic Predators teams, at least since the peak times of the Peter Laviolette era, would have a very hard time making comebacks of multi-goal deficits. However, Brunette has instilled a swagger with this team that can put the rally caps on when needed thanks to their aggressive offensive style of play.

To go back to the younger core that Brunette is mostly letting thrive, these players are key to this all ultimately hitting its full potential. Thomas Novak is at the center of this, and Luke Evangelista is his sidekick. Matching those two together on the second line is paying dividends, and kudos to Brunette for identifying that combination.

Evangelista is right in the middle of a stacked rookie race with such superstar rookies as Connor Bedard and Logan Cooley. I give Evangelista a puncher’s chance to be a finalist for the Calder Trophy after Brunette’s system continues to take shape and reach the full potential.

light. Related Story. Tommy Novak has Become Bonafide Weapon for Predators

We haven’t even seen what Cody Glass will bring to Brunette’s well-oiled offensive machine yet because he’s been out with injury since October 19. At this time the Predators were still very much in their infancy of grasping Brunette’s system, and they’ve made significant strides since then.

Once Glass returns and gets his feet under him again, look for him to make this offense even deeper just in time for the second half of the season and a postseason surge can take place.

Brunette has Brought New Age Approach, Giving Young Guys Opportunities

We’re even seeing clear examples of Brunette not being afraid to give youth and inexperience a chance to prove themselves. You can’t discover a hidden gem if you don’t give them the chance, and that’s what Brunette has done with Liam Foudy and Samuel Fagemo, albeit with mixed results.

Putting Juuso Parssinen on the top line to open the season was interesting, and looked good early on. Since then he has shifted to a veteran top line with Gustav Nyquist in there.

Getting Marc Del Gaizo his first NHL start against the Oilers in the 5-2 win on Saturday was awesome. Del Gaizo notched his first NHL point in this game and looked great in his debut.

I love the new age approach that Brunette takes with his lineup decisions. It keeps the opponents scrambling for what to expect and how to prep for playing against the Predators when Brunette is moving pieces around like it’s a chess board. That can sometimes backfire on an over-zealous head coach, but not so for Brunette.

3 Big Takeaways as Preds Rip Oilers 5-2 in Decisive Win. light. More

Now I don’t want to come off too overhyped on Brunette’s initial results as the fourth head coach in Nashville Predators history. His system doesn’t come without its risks and flaws. You have to give a little to gain a lot, and with that, the Predators are going to lose some heartbreakers in games where they pushed the pace and maybe took a little too many risks.

The clear weakness of this team has been when it comes on special teams and killing penalties. It’s not Brunette’s forte, and unfortunately the Predators they’re 31st in that area right now.

The way a team battles this trend is discipline, and that’s gotten gradually better as well over the last few games. The Predators, while struggling when they go on the penalty kill, have taken 41 penalties which is among the fewest in the NHL.

The Predators also average the 2nd fewest penalty minutes per game right at eight minutes. Only the St. Louis Blues have averaged fewer. So while the penalty kill is a cause for concern, Brunette has done a great job getting the message home to his team to play with more discipline.

Unless you’re being completely unrealistic and impatient with your expectations, Brunette and his coaching staff have passed the early test. Obviously a lot still has to be learned after only 11 games, but you have to be pleased with the early trend.