Three areas the Detroit Red Wings need to improve during the second half of the season

If the Detroit Red Wings don't want to become playoff pretenders, they must clean up a few areas of their game.

Brian Bradshaw Sevald-USA TODAY Sports
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Suppose the Detroit Red Wings hope to qualify for the postseason in 2024; they need to drastically improve in three areas, and fast. Before Thursday's late-night contest with the Los Angeles Kings, the Red Wings controlled the fifth spot in the Atlantic Division with 40 points in 38 games, one point behind the Lightning with a game in hand. The Red Wings are five points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have also played two fewer games to this point. The top two teams in the Atlantic are beginning to separate themselves. Boston controls the top spot with 52 points in just 36 games, while the Panthers are second with 48 points through 37 contests.

In comparison, the Penguins sit seventh in the Metropolitan Division with 40 points through 36 games. The wild card race will be a wild ride down the stretch, leaving little to no room for error in the second half of the season. That 3-9-1 stretch to close December really put Detroit in a vulnerable position.

If the Detroit Red Wings hope to make a serious playoff push, three areas need improvement.

The addition of Patrick Kane has paid off exceptionally well for the Detroit Red Wings. Kane, 35, is producing at a point-per-game rate; his vision, creativity, and ability to create offense at a high-end level is something the Red Wings had been missing for quite some time. He and Alex DeBrincat give Detroit two real top-line players that can flank Dylan Larkin or J.T. Compher if Lalonde is trying to spread out some offense. Kane and DeBrincat have excelled together on the top power-play unit.

Kane's ability to enter the offensive zone, particularly while on the power play, has become a significant asset. Gaining the offensive zone with control is vital, and it allows the Red Wings to set up faster than the days of being forced to dump the puck in and retrieve it. After dumping the puck in, if they win the puck battle, they need to get set up. Time is of the essence while on the power play.
Detroit's power play is operating at 22.2%, which is above league average; plus, they've scored 137 goals, which ranks third in the league.

The top-end scoring is fine, but the Red Wings need more consistency among their depth scorers if they hope to make a real playoff push.

Andrew Copp is being paid like a second-line center but hasn't scored since November 7th. The 29-year-old has only notched five goals this year, which follows a nine-goal campaign a season ago. Woof. Yes, he's become a reliable defensive center, but at $5.7 million per season, Copp needs to be much more productive than a fourth-line center. His 17 points this season rank him eighth on the Red Wings with defenseman Jake Walman. In turn, Walman has recorded nine goals on the season and is on a 20-goal pace.

Copp isn't the only Red Wing forward who is underachieving. As Bob Duff of Detroit Hockey Now recently mentioned, Joe Veleno has recorded two goals over his past 27 games and is a minus-11 over his last 12 games. Robby Fabbri, who caught fire returning to the lineup following knee surgery, scored seven goals over his first 11 games. He has gone ten straight without a goal, and recorded just one assist over that span. In addition, Detroit has gotten eight goals and 16 points from Michael Rasmussen, plus nine goals and 16 points from David Perron. Reading this is sure to infuriate the Jonatan Berggren should-be-in-Detroit crowd. Berggren recorded two goals and five points in nine games this season, with the Detroit Red Wings playing just a hair over ten minutes per night. He is also a plus-4 during his limited action.