The Chicago Blackhawks enter the final homestand of the season as losers of four of five and 12 of 14.
As Chicago (26-42-11, 63 points) aims to stop the skid when the Philadelphia Flyers visit on Monday, forward Tyler Johnson has a suggestion for what might help put the Blackhawks back on track.
“Our compete and everything’s there, it’s just our decision-making,” Johnson said. “We make the game way too difficult. We’re all over the ice. We just kind of play 1-on-1 battles instead of playing as a team.”
That trend continued Saturday, with Chicago out-shooting host San Jose 28-19 but tallying only a second-period goal from Johnson in a 4-1 loss to the Sharks.
“We’ve got to play a (much) simpler game,” Johnson said. “We turn the puck over way too much, and when you do that, teams are going to beat you. It doesn’t matter how good your team is, if you’re not playing in structure, you’re going to lose.”
Blackhawks interim coach Derek King agreed.
“I think the one-on-one stuff, guys are trying to beat (opposing players) or trying things that maybe give us a spark … or trying to be the hero and it ends up backfiring sometimes,” King said. “That’s where we need to bring it in and start playing more of a team game when we’re down like that.”
Philadelphia (25-43-11, 61 points) is coming off Sunday’s 4-1 win against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins, the team’s second straight victory after losing six in a row.
Noah Cates boosted the attack with two goals and an assist, while Martin Jones stopped 37 shots to help the Flyers keep the Penguins from extending their advantage for the third playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division.
Cates, a rookie left wing, has surged to five goals and four assists in his past 10 games. Cates expressed confidence in his ability to adjust to the NHL.
“You’ve got to be really detailed in your game and your routes and just different things, stick details,” he said. “So I’m just trying my best every night to pick up on little things that guys do that make it hard for the other team and help us.”
Lately, Cates has been especially in sync with linemates Morgan Frost and Owen Tippett, none of whom are older than 23.
The trio combined for six points against the Penguins, including three of the Flyers’ goals.
“They’re both really great players and we’re all kind of in the same boat,” Frost said of Cates and Tippett. “We’re all a little younger and trying to make a mark in the league. I think that adds hunger and I really like playing with them.”
Philadelphia defeated visiting Chicago 4-3 on March 5, as Cam Atkinson scored twice and Joel Farabee tallied three assists to secure the Flyers’ 16th consecutive regular-season game against the Blackhawks.
Dylan Strome had a pair of goals for the Blackhawks.
–Field Level Media