NHL on NBCSN: Predators face Hynes’ old team, the Devils

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Thursday’s matchup between the New Jersey Devils and Nashville Predators. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

John Hynes and the Predators visit Hynes’ old team, the Devils, for the first time since Hynes took over in Nashville.

The whole thing figures to be awkward for … most involved. That includes the players, and coaches, as Devils interim coach Alain Nasreddine noted to NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti that he’s coaching against his mentor on Thursday.

“It’s definitely weird, even coming in in a situation like this where it’s a whole new staff, whole new players,” Hynes said. “Usually when you get a job, you bring someone you know or you interview a bunch of guys before you do it. Here, you kind of just jump in and you just start working together right away. It’s been fantastic.”

Predators, Devils since Hynes change

Frankly, coaching changes haven’t altered the Devils’ or Predators’ paths all that much, in the grand scheme of things.

The Devils have been about as expected, going 9-13-4 since Nasreddine replaced Hynes. In some ways, that’s a respectable improvement. Ultimately, it’s really all about building for the future amid a lost season for New Jersey, anyway.

While Hynes describes the experience of taking over the Predators as fantastic, the results have left a lot to be desired.

The “meh” start can be seen most clearly in Nashville’s 4-4-0 record in eight games under Hynes.

Of course, you can only tell so much from a win-loss record, particularly over such a small sample size. Unfortunately, deeper dives don’t inspire a ton of confidence.

[COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET ON NBCSN]

The Predators felt stale under Peter Laviolette, yet many of their underlying numbers shined, as you can see at Natural Stat Trick. By almost all standards, those numbers have declined under Hynes. In particular, the Predators have slipped in the area of controlling high-danger chances. They’ve only generated 46.77 percent of such chances in eight games under Hynes, the eighth-worst mark in the NHL. The Predators were a top-10 team in that area during Laviolette’s final run.

Ultimately, goaltending doomed Laviolette in Nashville. To some extent, the same thing happened with Hynes in New Jersey. If the Predators want to turn things around, they have to hope that Hynes finds answers where he failed to before.

Maybe it will all really start to turn around where Hynes’ first coaching job ended?

Kenny Albert and Joe Micheletti will call the action at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. Kathryn Tappen will anchor studio coverage on Thursday alongside Anson Carter.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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