The Detroit Red Wings, a team surrounded by question marks following the departure of Nicklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart and Tomas Holmstrom, didn't help their case one bit during their opening game against the St. Louis Blues.
To say that the Red Wings were disengaged and unattached would be an understatement. To call them rusty would be doing them a favor. Was this a case of Detroit finally being outmatched, or were the Red Wings just not ready to go after one week of training camp?
It's hard telling at this point, but one game into the season things aren't looking very good in Detroit.
So is there any good news after the embarrassing effort that the boys in Red and White put forward against the Blues in their 2013 opener? Lets do some digging.
After Chris Stewart scored a power-play goal to open the third period, Mike Babcock had seen enough from Jimmy Howard. Not that any of the goals that Howard had allowed up to that point were really his fault.
Babcock had to be thinking that pulling the starter would fire his squad up. Sadly that wasn't the case, as the St. Louis Blues would go on to score another power-play goal against The Monster, but he still looked sharp in relief against the onslaught that was the Blues offense.
It'd be easy to forget that there are 47 more games left to play for the Red Wings, and that Gustavsson will be an important part of any run that Detroit will make to the playoffs.
There's no way to take the edge off the shelling the Wings just took at the hands of the Blues, but this is as good a place to start as any.
Darren Helm is one of the most important players on the Detroit Red Wings.
Don't underestimate the impact he can have from the third line for this team. The Wings were pushed around, punched, hit and physically dominated for all 60 minutes of a game that was never in doubt.
Perhaps Helmer could have changed that with his forechecking, hitting and speed. Perhaps he couldn't have. But his presence surely wouldn't have hurt. Add in the fact that the Blues outright dominated the game via special teams, and his absence is all the more glaring.
The long and the short of it is that the Red Wings need Helm back and healthy to do exactly what none of the other players in White seemed to want to do against the Blues. Get in on the puck, make simple plays and take the body every now and again.
That's a hook.
From the outset, Vladimir Tarasenko made those on Detroit's blue line look silly.
None were victimized harder than Kyle Quincey, who was beat soundly and without question on both of the young Russian's goals. He couldn't close the gap on the speedy forward on his second goal, and straight up mishandled the puck on the first.
The good news is that the Red Wings are only going to have to play the St. Louis Blues and their apparent rookie sensation a few more times this year, giving Quincey and Co. plenty of time to right the ship.
Are you a glass half full or a glass half empty type?
If you are a half full type, then you'll have a hard time ignoring Damien Brunner's performance against the Blues. He was the best forward for the Red Wings, and actually managed a few shots on net...something his ultra-talented All-Star counterparts in Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg can't say for themselves.
To be honest, I've never seen the Euro-Twins look as invisible and shut down as they did tonight. St. Louis did a remarkable job of staying close to the duo, keeping them to the outside and preventing any kind of mounted offense whatsoever.
Brunner seemed to know what to do with the space, however, ripping off a one-timer or two and looking sound and capable on the power play.
The Detroit Red Wings no longer need to wonder what life will be like after Lidstrom. They found out in the harshest of fashions as they gave up six goals to the Blues en route to being shut out.
Detroit's defenders had serious issues with their gap control and were caught cheating a bit into the neutral zone on several occasions, giving St. Louis players clean breakaways from the blue line in.
I don't think I've ever seen an opposing forward with a breakaway during their own power play, but Chris Stewart managed to pull off the feat, splitting the pinching D and burying a goal.
Things can't get worse for this group, and the plane ride home is long enough that they'll have to look at each other and decide what kind of unit they'll be. They were pushovers tonight—non-factors in a game that the Blues controlled from the beginning.
If this doesn't fire them up then nothing will.
The Detroit Red Wings are a team chock full of NHL veterans. They've been on the receiving end of these types of beatdowns before, but that doesn't make them any easier to swallow.
In short, no one likes to be blown out and the Red Wings will need to find a combo breaker heading into next week.
There is such a thing as getting beaten too badly, and I guarantee the short trip back to Detroit isn't going to be an ice cream social. Not with the way Mike Babcock was glaring at his troops from the 15-minute mark of the first period on.
Players will be called out. Names will be named. And Detroit absolutely has to come out better, stronger and faster in its next game. Use this as motivational material and then move on to a few victories. If the Red Wings can't find a way to to that, things could get ugly real quick.
But I don't anticipate that.
This is one game out of 47. Things happen. It's how this veteran group responds that will be important.
Franklin Steele is a hockey analyst for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter for entertaining hockey media from around the Web and for random musings about the sport, or like him on Facebook. He'll make you chili and send you an Internet high-five.