Detroit Red Wings Season Opener Proves There's Nowhere to Go but Up

Matt Hutter@mahutter12Analyst IJanuary 20, 2013

ST. LOUIS, MO - JANUARY 19: Jonathan Ericsson #52 of the Detroit Red wings reacts to his team giving up a sixth goal to the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center on January 19, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

If there's one positive takeaway from watching the horrific butchery that was the Detroit Red Wings 2012-13 season opener it is this—it can't get any worse than that.

The brutality the Wings suffered at the hands of the St. Louis Blues was as much an indication of the Blues' continued rise to the upper echelon of the NHL elite as it was sobering proof that the 2012-13 Red Wings might as well replace the iconic winged-wheel with a question mark.

Losing Nicklas Lidstrom to retirement and Brad Stuart to free agency over the summer was sure to leave a hole on defense.

The idea that the hole would rival the Grand Canyon, well, not too many expected that.

It would be unfair to call out individual defensemen for bad performances in this game because they were all bad, just by different degrees.

Sure, the Blues played a hard, fast and physical game that few in the league would have adequate answers for, but the Red Wings defense might as well have been wearing blue and yellow with all the help they provided their opponent.

Up front, the Wings still had Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen, three proven game-breakers in seasons past.

All three were virtually invisible through three periods of hockey.

The depth of secondary scoring this season looked to be even better than in seasons past.  With the reacquisition of Mikael Samuelsson, the signing of Damien Brunner and the improved health of Dan Cleary, the Red Wings' secondary offense looked to be dangerous in its own right.


Forget secondary scoring—the offensive push these forwards provided was little more than a light tap on the Blues' shoulders.

The Red Wings goaltending was, amazingly, one of the few things Detroiters weren't worried about coming into the shortened 48-game season. While starter Jimmy Howard looked largely solid in the first period despite allowing two goals, he too seemed to unravel into some shade of lackluster by mid-way through the second frame.

Make no mistake, the collectively terrible performance by the Detroit Red Wings in their season opener may actually prove to be the norm for a good part of this season.

Not only are they figuring out how to play without the blue-line rock named "Lidstrom" on which they built the majority of their success over the past 20 years, the entire roster is replete with either new faces or old faces in new roles.

From the promising, yet unproven Brunner figuring out how to play in the NHL, to Kyle Quincey and Jonathan Ericsson attempting to fake it until (and if) they make it as top-four NHL defensemen, the additions the Red Wings have made since last season are going to be as challenging to deal with as their subtractions.

For the first time in the better part of 20 years, the Red Wings, truly, do not know who they are as a team.

One can be sure that their opening-game performance cannot possibly mirror this team's true identity.

However, just how far off this ugly and poorly drawn sketch actually is from the model is something only time will tell.