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What Red Wings Must Do to Earn Playoff Spot in 2024-25 (+)

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Christian Fischer, Red Wings

The Red Wings were one point short of qualifying for the playoffs in 2023-24. Every Detroit coach, player and member of management probably thought initially about a game, a play, or a moment where the group could have earned that needed point.

But everyone has moved on, and today it feels as if a much bigger effort will be required in 2024-25 for the Red Wings to avoid missing the playoffs for a ninth consecutive season.

Teams below them in the Atlantic Division standings are improving. Detroit’s salary cap outlook isn’t as favorable. The Red Wings lost players they wanted to keep. It’s plausible they could take a half-step backwards if they don’t take their game to the next level.

Here are five requirements for the Red Wings to compete for a playoff spot next season:

 Tighten Defensive Coverage

Last season, 17 NHL teams gave 252 or fewer goals over 82 games. They all had a 3.02 team GAA or better.  Thirteen of those teams qualified for the playofs. The Red Wings have a good understanding of what they can do this season to improve their playoff chances.

Getting in the top half of the GAA seems like a “must” for this team. The team’s overall defensive coverage has to improve or they will miss the playoffs for a ninth consecutive season.

It feels as if they made some strides in defensive coverage last season, but numbers say it was negligible. They gave up 275 goals in Derek Lalonde’s first season and 273 last season. Their 11-point improvement resulted primarly from offensive improvement (particularly on the power play).

To make the playoffs, must set their sights on reducing goals against to 250. That will require a restructuring of how the team plays.

Emergence of No. 1 Goalie

Alex Lyon, Ville Husso and James Reimer moments each last season, but none showed the consistency a coach wants to see from a No. 1.

GM Steve Yzerman added two veteran NHL goalies (Cam Talbot and Jack Campbell) in the name of upgrading the position. The Red Wings need one of the goalies to show enough consistency to earn 50-55 starts. Maybe the best bet is Talbot. This is a similar to the situation he faced last season in Los Angeles.  Phoenix Copley was the projected starter, but the Kings brought in veterans Talbot and Rittich. Talbot won the job. He played sharp enough to be named to play in the All-Star game.

He boasted a 2.50 goals-against average and .913 save percentage. Talbot owns a career .914 save percentage. Last season, the Red Wings didn’t have a goalie with a save percentage below 3.00 and Lyon led the team with a .904 save percentage.

It doesn’t have to be Talbot, but someone has to step up and be more consistent than Detroit’s goaltending was last season.

Don’t Allow Scoring to Decline

The loss of Shayne Gostisbehere, David Perron and Daniel Sprong through free agency, and Jake Walman and Robby Fabbri through trades, means Detroit lost 75 goals.

The addition of Vladimir Tarasenko might regain 25-30, and Patrick Kane, providing he stays healthy, could add five to seven goals more than he did last season. The hope is Jonatan Berggren can produce 15-plus goals as well. Erik Gustafsson and Simon Edvinsson might add 10 between them. Can Alex DeBrincat score more?

But they could end up scoring less if they don’t find improvement elsewhere. Detroit’s 278 goals last season ranked ninth in the league. That was a 38-goal increase from the previous season. The Red Wings will have to work to draw close to 278 goals. Weaker scoring teams have difficulty making the playoffs.

Road Warrior Mentality

The Detroit Red Wings registered three more points at home than the Toronto Maple Leafs earned in their home arena. But the Maple Leafs played much better on the road and finished 11 points ahead of Detroit in the final standings.

Every NHL playoff team put up a better road record than Detroit’s mark of 18-19-4.

Winning on the road often comes down to goaltending, defensive commitment and the power play.  There’s no reason to believe that Detroit’s power play won’t be as productive (ninth in the NHL, 23.1%) as it was last season.  Earning more points on the road is a must.

More Emphasis on Pushback

Ideally, the Red Wings would have brought in a couple of bigger forwards. Bt Yzerman didn’t have the cap space (or roster spots) to add more size and tenacity. But Simon Edvinsson is 6-foot-6 and we can guess his physical game will expand as gains more experience.

The projected fourth line of Christian Fischer, Joe Veleno and Tyler Motte could be a prickly unit . It’s not unthinkable that they could total 380 to 400 hits among them. This will be a high energy trio.

Justin Holl may end up playing more and he had 151 hits in his last season in Toronto. Tarasenko isn’t a big hitter, but he is 220 pounds and he’s challenging to move. He can protect the puck.

This team may be modestly harder to play against. That will help in their playoff push.

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Mike Babcock

Justin Holl playing more minutes?

This is a GOOD thing? 🙄

TAV

Right I can’t see him as anything more than depth if they can’t move him. Maybe OK having depth but not looking for big hits or better play. Coming in for injury does not make you a meaningful part of anything.

RWHockey13

I hope he can play better.

muttsy19

No kidding. Right there with you guys

JIM S CLOSS

The Redwings need to reduce the number of shot from the slot.

Mark W

GR can pitch-in some well regarded talent if the Wings find their D needs help. The pipeline on D needs to start moving so I think the Detroit shuttle will be active this season. Also a bit of NHL experience is good for the trade resume’ and the young D talent keeps on coming.