Nashville Predators soaking up Andrew Brunette's offense, but when will the goals come?

Talking the talk, it turns out, goes hand in hand with walking the walk — at least when it comes to communicating with today's hockey players.

First-year Nashville Predators coach Andrew Brunette learned that lesson early during his coaching career, which began in 2014 as an assistant with the Minnesota Wild.

During the 16 years he spent skating in the NHL, Brunette said talking wasn't something players and coaches much did. If a coach spoke to a player it was mostly likely because the player had done something wrong.

"My first time around (in coaching) it was like, 'Why do we need to know everything?' " Brunette said Saturday before his team's game against the San Jose Sharks. "I had a hard time with it.

"It took a little bit of soul searching, reflecting."

Brunette said he did some reading to try to better understand the evolving player-coach relationship.

"They're just different," Brunette said. "Doesn't make them bad. They just need different things."

Andrew Brunette on his system: 'Change is hard all the time'

Patience was a necessary ingredient when it came to that change for Brunette. Just as it's a necessary ingredient for Brunette and his team when it comes to his players learning the new, more offense-oriented system he has implemented.

"Change is hard all the time, everything in life," Brunette said. "It's uncomfortable.

"It takes time. In the coaching role, I keep saying I wish it wasn't going to take time."

Advanced metrics suggest the Predators will score their fair share of goals, which is the goal of the system.

Going into Saturday, the Predators led the NHL in expected goals for through five games (11.86), a full goal more than the next closest team, according to The metric measures the probability of a shot resulting in a goal using the history of many similar shots.

On the other hand, the Predators were 22nd in the league in goals per game at 2.60.

That's where patience enters the equation.

"Just getting rid of your old habits you had ingrained in you," center Tommy Novak said. "You have to think for a bit instead of just playing.

"At the start the biggest problem is having to think too much about your new responsibilities."

He said the defensive zone is played a bit differently, that there's more of a swarming mentality when it comes to the puck.

Nashville Predators eager to learn

While learning comes with its share of lumps, Novak, as a center, is excited about the change.

He had two goals in the first five games this season. He had 17 goals and 26 assists in 51 games last season.

"You're trying to end the play quickly and get going the other way," Novak said of playing in the defensive zone.

Twenty-one-year-old forward Luke Evangelista agreed that breaking old habits is one of the most difficult parts about learning a new system.

He had eight goals and seven assists in 24 games last season and had one assist through five this season.

"Some things I've never really seen before," he said of the system. "The more reps you do, the more days you practice it, the easier it's going to get."

Evangelista said he became used to playing more on the half-wall, looking for a breakout pass.

" 'Bruno' wants us pushing the pace and playing fast," Evangelista said. "It totally makes sense but it definitely was a big of an adjustment at first."

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This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Why Nashville Predators have new offense but not more goals — yet