This may sound campy, but I really respected the fact that the Red Wings’ players and coaching staff preached a, “We’re dedicated to getting back to the playoffs” message during training camp and the exhibition season.
While it might sound a little loony to fans that have watched the team under-perform for the past two seasons, no professional athlete should approach a new campaign expecting to stink, and I certainly appreciated the veracity and sincerity of the players’ comments…
Even though I’m realistic in framing the Wings’ chances of making the playoffs as a little long.
The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan examines the factors which may help the Wings make a “run for the playoffs” this upcoming season, and his most basic reasons are the most logical means for improvement:
Dominate one-goal games: The Red Wings lost 27 of 37 one-goal games last season — 14 in regulation, 13 in overtime or shootout (10-14-13).
If they can get that number closer to .500, and add eight or nine points to the win column, that would be a huge start in climbing back into the playoff race.
Increased offense from the likes of Athanasiou, Larkin, Mantha, and production from the rookies, should help. But, the Wings can’t afford any slippage defensively while thinking offense.
Improve on special teams: Neither the power play or penalty kill was good enough last season. For any hope of the playoffs, both units have to improve dramatically.
The power play continued to be a disappointment, ranking 24th, forcing the team to replace assistant coach John Torchetti with former Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma.
The Wings did score nine shorthanded goals, but the unit struggled badly, somewhat because of injuries, and ranked 23rd in the league.
Playoff teams, generally, have both units in the top-10, meaning there’s plenty of work to be done.