I, and the rest of the wonderful staff here at On The Forecheck, have been rolling non-stop for the past 36 hours. Today alone, we put together a roundtable discussion on Laviolette’s firing, only for John Hynes to be named head coach about 45 minutes later. We covered both of David Poile’s press conferences, cranked out some incredible stories and analysis on the changes, and just when we had a moment to breathe, we all came to a realization...
“Oh yeah...there’s a game tonight.”
Even though this was Hynes’s debut with the Preds, we knew going in his fingerprints weren’t going to be on this game (he wasn’t even here for the morning skate, after all). And it’ll probably be a couple of weeks before we really get a glimpse of how he’ll shape the team.
Instead, the more intriguing storyline was how the players would respond to the change, especially given Poile’s — let’s say “blunt” — assessment of the current roster. And the result? Meh.
The Preds’ 6-2 loss to the Bruins definitely wasn’t their worst performance of the past month. Despite the ugly start, you could tell the effort was there, and the Predators certainly had their fair share of great chances. But the momentary mental lapses that have plagued the team all season long were on display again tonight. And they simply became too much to overcome.
Let’s just say it wasn’t exactly an ideal start for the Predators...
Just 96 seconds into the game, David Pastrnak puts the Bruins up 1-0 with a routine slapshot from the right circle. As dangerous of a shot as Pastrnak has, this, once again, is one Rinne should have had.
But to his credit, Rinne settled down after that. He made a handful of good saves over the course of the rest of the period, including a good save on Bergeron off a turnover, and a breakaway chance from Anders Bjork.
And it’s a good thing he did, because the majority of the first period was a smoldering trash fire. Not like a flaming monstrosity, just enough of a trash fire to be like “oh, that’s probably not good.” The Predators couldn’t possess the puck long enough to get any sustained pressure on Boston, while, defensively, the team just couldn’t keep the Bruins from getting chances in high-danger areas. The Preds did get a few solid chances towards the end of the period, but you could tell they were pushing things a little bit.
Thoughts after the first 10 minutes of tonight's #Preds game: the team looks completely discombobulated. I kind of expected more from them coming into this game. We'll see how this progresses.— Kristopher Martel (@kmartel_sports) January 8, 2020
The second period begins with one of the stranger sequences you’ll see in the NHL this year. Nick Bonino bats the puck right as Charlie McAvoy slides into the Bruins net. The net was well off its moorings, but Bonino’s shot still went into the net. The refs got together for about a minute, before ruling the puck would have gone in regardless of McAvoy knocking the net off. So it appears we have a 1-1 game.
The referees go back and review the play. And after the replay, they rule Rocco Grimaldi pushed McAvoy into the net, resulting in them ruling “no goal.”
That chance is actually the catalyst for a good first half of the period for Nashville. The Predators outshoot Boston 7-1 in the first six minutes, and despite another lackluster power play opportunity, it looks like the Preds are starting to turn things around.
The Predators’ fourth line and third pair gets trapped in their own zone, and after the Preds squander several chances to clear the puck, the Bruins take advantage. Danton Heinen wrists one over Rinne’s shoulder to put the Bruins up 2-0.
The Preds get one back thanks to a 5-on-3 power play chance. Filip Forsberg caps off some great puck movement with a slapshot from the high slot to make it 2-1. Josi gets an assist on the play, pushing his point streak to 11 games.
Forsberg follows that up on the next shift with a great move to set up an even better chance for Austin Watson, but... well, you might imagine how that went.
After a too-many-men penalty, the Bruins power play finally breaks through at the end of the second. Patrice Bergeron gets behind three of the Preds’ four penalty killers and one-times a shot past Rinne to make it 3-1 Bruins.
It’s a shot-for-shot example of the special teams issues Bobby Misey showcased in his excellent piece earlier today. Despite a fairly good period overall, the Preds once again enter the second intermission in a two-goal hole.
The third period starts with another bad break for the Preds. Pekka stops Par Lindholm’s initial shot, but Jarred Tinordi pushes a Bruin into the crease, Rinne winds up losing the puck, and Boston takes a 4-1 lead. Chris Wagner gets credit for the goal.
The Predators have a good response following that goal. Forsberg gets a short-handed chance that just goes wide of the net, and moments later, Johansen rings a shot off the post. Tuuka Rask then comes up with easily the best save of the game, snagging Arvidsson’s shot towards a wide-open net.
With 8:20 left, we get the Preds’ best highlight of the game.
Oh man Chara ATE ONE from Yakov Trenin here pic.twitter.com/8yQ7a8QGK4— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) January 8, 2020
Yes, that’s rookie Yakov Trenin cold-cocking the tallest guy in NHL history in a fight (a fight Chara instigated, by the way). Chara was apparently upset over a hit Trenin threw against McAvoy, which the officials ruled clean. Regardless, good to see the baby Russian holding his own against one of the league’s tougher fighters.
We get a flurry of scoring in garbage time to end the game. First, Mikael Granlund pushes in a loose puck past Rask to make it 4-2. It’s a goal that wasn’t initially caught on the ice, but eventually confirmed by video review.
The Predators pull Rinne to make a last-ditch push, but the Bruins score twice on the empty net; one goal from David Krejci, and one from Charlie Coyle. Boston wraps up a 6-2 win.
OTF’s Super-Duper Stars o’ the Game
3. Roman Josi: You have to give him some credit for an 11-game point streak, right?
2. Yakov Trenin: Beefy boi punches tall boi
1. John Hynes: Coach, you’re going to have a lot on your plate these next few weeks. So please accept this totally real and prestigious Super-Duper Star o’ the Game award to cheer you up during your darker times.
Other Random Takeaways
- I’d like to give a personal shout out to Krazy Kyle for rocking “The Legend of Zelda” theme on the organ.
- I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I thought as the game went on, the Predators’ power play actually looked — fairly good? The entire 5-on-3 sequence was a textbook example of positioning and puck movement with the man advantage (granted, it’s easier to do both of those things when you have two extra guys). You could tell there was also more of an emphasis on getting the puck into some of the higher-danger areas near the net, as opposed to keeping the puck on the outside to set up a point shot. You have to wonder if that’s something small Hynes suggested mid-game.
- The Duchene-Granlund-Jarnkrok may have been the Preds’ best line tonight, especially when it came to getting back to help in the defensive zone (they finished right around a 90% xGF%). This was probably also the JoFA line’s best game playing together all season. As always, check out Bryan’s post-game charts (@ProjPatSummitt) for a full breakdown of each line’s performance
- Wait, since when do we get a little twangy guitar riff whenever the Preds return to full strength?
- Bless Pekka Rinne. He’s had one of his better games of the past month and he’s still going to get a 4 GA loss. None of the Bruins’ last goals are on him, by the way.
- PETITION TO HAVE YAKOV TRENIN BE THE PREDS’ NEW ENFORCER
EVERY TIME I'M IN THE STREETS— Bryan Bastin (@projpatsummitt) January 8, 2020
The Predators have a Central Division showdown Thursday at Chicago. Puck drop for that one’s at 7:30 P.M. CST.
The Bruins return home for a matchup with the Jets Thursday.