Playoff-bound Predators need a greater version of Matt Duchene to advance

Separated by only a matter of houses on the same street, Nashville Predators center Matt Duchene and coach John Hynes saw plenty of one another during the NHL's four-month pandemic pause.

The visits were primarily social in nature, a first-year Predators player becoming more familiar with a coach who'd just arrived in January – only two months before the regular season came to its premature end.

But as expected when a player with a seven-year, $56 million contract sits down with a coach whose job is based on getting the most out of his team, the chats between the two occasionally veered into video breakdown and tactical talks.

Duchene was reluctant to share many details of the strategy sessions, saying he preferred “keeping my stuff to myself” before noting the talks involved making small tweaks here and there in his game. But Hynes may have been a bit more revealing in regards to the Xs and Os chatter between the two.

“We talked about his expectations as a player, (and) how can we help him perform his best?” Hynes said. “And also as a coach, talking with him about some things that I see we may need more.”

What the Predators need from Duchene, especially when seen in the context of that whopper of a deal he signed, is for him to be great when it matters most – not just pretty good, certainly . . .

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