Continue in 10
NHL Detroit Red Wings

5 Things the Detroit Red Wings Must Do To Be Successful During 2013-14 Season

1 of 6

5 Things the Detroit Red Wings Must Do To Be Successful During 2013-14 Season

5 Things the Detroit Red Wings Must Do To Be Successful During 2013-14 Season
Rick Osentoski - USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Red Wings battled past low expectations, a rash of injuries and a young defense corps last season to sneak into the playoffs last season. As the team shifts to the Eastern Conference this season, they will need to improve on several of their weaknesses from last season if they hope to return to the postseason. Some key offseason additions have boosted the team’s expectations, and they have been picked to finish near the top of the Atlantic Division.

A long offseason and a full training camp should help players be more in shape than they were for the start of the 2013 season. With a full season ahead, the health of Detroit’s older players will be a season-long concern. A few players from the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins were able to step up and have a big impact last season, and there’s no reason to think they couldn’t do it again. If veteran players are underperforming, there has to be a short leash with so many young talented forwards working as hard as they can just to get a shot.

A less hectic travel schedule should also work in the Red Wings’ favor, as they no longer face frequent trips out west. They will also benefit from a division that features some of the worst teams in the league from last season. If the offense is clicking and Jimmy Howard can continue to play the way he did in the 2013 playoffs, the Wings should be headed back to the playoffs. Here’s a look at five specific things the team can improve on to increase their chance of success this season.

Jonathan Katje is an NHL featured columnist for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter or add him to your circles on Google Plus.

2 of 6

Stay Healthy

Todd Bertuzzi
Rob Grabowski - USA TODAY Sports

Last season, a rash of injuries nearly kept the Red Wings out of the playoffs. If they are to be successful this season, the Wings need Todd Bertuzzi, Mikael Samuelsson and other at full strength. With the season ready to start Wednesday, Jonas Gustavsson is hurt again, and Patrick Eaves will miss at least a few weeks - not exactly a great start on the injury front.

3 of 6

Improve On Special Teams Play

Niklas Kronwall
Brace Hemmelgarn - USA TODAY Sports

Last season the Red Wings ranked 15th in the league on the power play, converting just over 18 percent of their chances. The addition of Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss should help generate some extra offense for the power play unit(s). The team's penalty kill ranked 12th last season, holding opponents scoreless almost 82 percent of the time. As the Wings' defense corps continues to mature and develop, that number should also improve. Success in the Eastern Conference is all but a given if the Wings can put their special teams units in the top ten this season.

4 of 6

Let the Young Guns Play

Tomas Tatar
Rick Osentoski - USA TODAY Sports

The Red Wings have a handful of young players who are more than ready for full-time duty in the NHL, but cap issues and a crowded roster could get in their way this season. Tomas Tatar and Joakim Andersson will start the season in Detroit, and their strong play last season and steady preseason should help get them plenty of ice time. Unfortunately, Gustav Nyquist became a cap casualty early in the week and will have to start the season in the AHL. Holding this trio back for the likes of Patrick Eaves, Jordin Tootoo and Drew Miller isn't going to be a popular move for very long, and the Wings would be well served to keep the youth in their lineup.

5 of 6

Get Better In Shootouts

Jimmy Howard
Rick Osentoski - USA TODAY Sports

Last season was a great wake-up call on just how important one point can be in a playoff race. The Red Wings were 2-5 in shootouts last season, and their eight losses after regulation was the fourth highest total in the league. That's a lot of points left on the table, and in what is expected to a pretty tight race in the Atlantic Division an improved performance in overtime and the shootout tiebreaker could be key to playing in the playoffs again.

6 of 6

Score More Goals

Pavel Datsyuk
Gary A. Vasquez - USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 season saw the Red Wings average just over 2.5 goals per game, which put them 20th in the league. As they now shift to the Eastern Conference, home to seven of the top ten teams in goals per game, they will need to improve on their scoring. Weiss and Alfredsson should help with that, and if Johan Franzen can find chemistry with that duo there are two dangerous scoring lines in Detroit. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg will need to be solid as usual, and players like Tatar, Andersson, Justin Abdelkader are capable of chipping in 10-15 goals each. Detroit's blueliners contributed only 14 total goals last season, and a better output from the defense corps can only lead to great things for the offense.