Friday, December 24, 2010

Key contributions help Blues go into Christmas with pair of wins

Berglund, Johnson, D'Agostini step up in victory over Red Wings

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues, looking to stay afloat in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, earned a nice two-day Christmas reprieve after an entertaining 4-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings Thursday.

It's impressive enough when the Blues win over Detroit period. The Red Wings have had their way with the Blues -- and the rest of the West -- for a long time.

But it's the way the Blues won is what will be needed as a blueprint going forward as they continue to play without key injured forwards.

Prior to Thursday's game, the Blues had scored six goals in three games. Fifty percent of them came off the stick of Alex Steen, who's really jumped to the forefront of the Blues' offense. He has points in 10 of his last 12 games and is second on the Blues (behind David Backes' 26) with 23 points.

But when the Blues, who will return post-Christmas on Sunday night at home against Nashville (6 p.m. on FSN, KMOX 1120-AM), get scoring from the likes of Patrik Berglund, Matt D'Agostini and Erik Johnson from the blue line, the Blues (17-12-5) will be able to build on that two-game winning streak they are currently on.

Throw in the production of Backes, Vladimir Sobotka and if Brad Boyes, who did light the lamp Tuesday in Atlanta, can find his scoring touch, it makes the Blues a player in the Western Conference once again.

"We need these contributions from all of us like that, especially when you see Steener running around and controlling the play like he does," said D'Agostini, whose first goal in eight games and second in 20 was the game-winner Thursday. "We got some big goals from our power play, which is always good to have and good to see."

Johnson, the top overall pick of 2006 who came into this season with high hopes of building on a 10-goal, 39-point year he had in 2009-10, found the net for only the second time this season but first since scoring Oct. 23 against Pittsburgh.

"It definitely feels good to have myself and Bergy and Dags contribute on the scoresheet and get a big win before the holidays," said Johnson, who has 11 points in 33 games.

Blues coach Davis Payne agreed.

"It's different guys contributing and it's exactly what we have to have," Payne said. "If we're going to pick Alex Steen to be the guy every night, it's going to be tough weight for him. But he's done his part. Bergie stepped up tonight, EJ with a goal, Dags with a big goal ... that fourth one was a great transition play by (Eric Brewer), great decision and even better recognition by Backs to spring Dags in on that goal and a great finish.

"It's the type of performance that you need. We're the type of team where we need contributions from everybody and we need scoring depth. We can't have anybody going for too long without it. I (also) thought Boysie had another strong game."

Berglund, who shows flashes of being that center the Blues envisioned when they picked him in the first round (25th overall) in 2006, potted his second career two-goal game and first since March 24, 2009, his rookie season.

Thursday was a game that showed Berglund getting involved at both ends of the ice and putting his 6-foot-4, 218-pound frame to good use.

"Every once in a while, you get a little emotional out there," said Berglund, who has eight goals and 20 points in 34 games. "I think I've been more and more emotional lately and maybe that's bringing out a little more aggressive play from me. I think it's been helping me a lot out there.

"We're sticking to our standard every game. Every game counts. We want the two points in every game, but a game like this, it brings out more confidence in us. We got two straight wins here, one against Detroit, a great team. Now we can go into the holiday break here with family and celebrate Christmas. It's a great finish for us."

A great finish and for the Blues, they hope it's the start of another streak of victories.

"To beat a team like that, a division rival, they're a high-skilled team as it is so it definitely feels good to get those two points and ride into the holidays on a little roll," Johnson said.

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