A three-game road trip begins tonight in Chicago for the Nashville Predators, their first journey away from home with their new head coach.
John Hynes was behind the bench during Tuesday's loss to Boston at Bridgestone Arena, and while that will go down as his first official game in charge of the team, tonight's contest against the Blackhawks at the United Center will truly be his first outing instilling some of his philosophies into his new team.
Hynes and the Preds hit the ice on Wednesday in Nashville for almost an hour, as the head coach began to identify areas of correction, as well as teaching his club what he believes is the best way to go about turning this season around.
"It was great," Hynes said of his first practice in Nashville. "The guys had some good energy, and I thought that their attention [to detail] was good. We tried to work on some components of a game that we want to get better at, and the execution was good, pace was good, so hopefully we can build off of that."
Predators players were receptive to the fresh voice, and starting tonight in Chicago, there are 40 games remaining in the regular season. The Preds will have to win more games than they lose over the next three months in order to qualify for the playoffs, but even with a coaching change and the inconsistencies this season has delivered, confidence isn't lacking.
"We just want to keep sticking together," Preds center Ryan Johansen said. "We know what we're capable of, we know the talent we have in our room, and if we can add these things [from Coach Hynes] into our system here… we believe we'll start turning this around and it'll turn into a bunch of wins in the win column. It's just about getting better and better each day, and obviously we need results right now, but there's still a lot of hockey left to be played. We're just going to start with Chicago and go out there and execute our game plan as best we can."
Predators forward Matt Duchene returned to the lineup on Tuesday after missing two games due to illness, but Dante Fabbro (upper-body, day-to-day), Ryan Ellis (Injured Reserve) and Colton Sissons (Injured Reserve) remain out.
Video: Coach Hynes previews Preds at Blackhawks
Last Time Out:
Filip Forsberg and Mikael Granlund scored power-play goals in Nashville's 6-2 loss to the Bruins on Tuesday night in Nashville. Preds Captain Roman Josi assisted on Forsberg's goal to extend his career-high point streak to 11 games, the highest total by a defenseman this season.
Josi paces the Preds with 45 points, followed by Forsberg with 30 and Duchene with 29. Forsberg's 15 goals lead the team, Josi has 14 and Nick Bonino has 13. Pekka Rinne took the loss in net for the Preds on Tuesday night; he's 14-9-3 on the season, while Juuse Saros is 5-7-4.
The Blackhawks have won four of their last six games, but the most recent result was a 2-1 loss to Calgary. Patrick Kane leads Chicago with 24 goals and 55 points, followed by Johnathan Toews with 31 points, and then Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome with 30 points each. Dominik Kubalik has 13 goals on the season; Toews, DeBrincat and Strome each have 10. Robin Lehner is 12-7-4 in net for the Hawks; Corey Crawford is 7-12-2.
Video: Nick Bonino previews the Blackhawks
The Predators are 52-50-(4)-9 all-time against the Blackhawks, including a 22-28-(1)-6 record at United Center. The Preds have earned at least a point in seven of their last 10 games against the Blackhawks (6-3-1). Nashville has limited Chicago to two-or-fewer goals in eight of their last 10 meetings.
In the first game between the two teams this season, the Preds shut out the Blackhawks, 3-0, at Bridgestone Arena on Oct. 29. Nashville fired 51 shots, tied for its third-most in a game in franchise history; 40 of those shots came in the first two periods.
This will be the 116th time the Predators and Blackhawks clash in the regular season, Nashville's most games played against a single opponent.
Video: Mattias Ekholm previews the Blackhawks
Notables Versus Chicago:
Ryan Johansen has 22 points (5g-17a), including six multi-point games, in 31 career regular-season meetings with the Blackhawks.
Viktor Arvidsson has scored in two of his last four contests against Chicago, including his record-breaking 34th goal of the 2018-19 season on April 6, 2019, the most in a single season in Preds history.
Watch & Listen:
Coverage for tonight's 7:30 p.m. (CT) puck drop from the United Center begins with Predators Live on Fox Sports Tennessee at 7 p.m. Willy Daunic, Chris Mason and Lyndsay Rowley have the call on the television side, while Pete Weber and Hal Gill will broadcast on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network. Pregame coverage on the radio side begins at 6:30 p.m. with Darren McFarland. For broadcast information and channel locations throughout the country, click here.
The game is also being shown nationally on NBCSN.
If the Predators are playing hockey, you can count on the game being on at Preds Approved Bars & Restaurants. Locations throughout Tennessee may be seen by clicking here.
Listen to a Live Radio Feed (only active during the game broadcast window).
Watch a Live Stream of the game on the Fox Sports Go App or Watch on NHL.TV