The 25th overall pick in 2006 has 7 goals
in 11 games, trying to make a difference
By LOUIE KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- A recent string of games has once again put Patrik Berglund on high display and it's giving Blues fans a glimpse of why Berglund was the 25th pick in the 2006 NHL Draft.
Berglund netted his 15th goal of the season in Monday's 3-2 victory over Vancouver, which turned out to be the game-winner. He's now scored a goal in three straight games, four in five games and seven in his last 11 games, four of them coming on the power play.
Needless to say, Berglund, who's been a streaky player in each of his first three seasons in the league, is currently on one of those heated streaks.
It's a good time to be on one.
But instead of settling for doing just enough to get by on the ice these days, something he may have done a season ago, Blues coach Davis Payne noticed a maturing player after Monday's game despite a successful ending.
"He left last night's game knowing that he scored a key power play goal, but he also knows that his play in his own end is something that he takes a great deal of pride in," Payne said of Berglund on Tuesday. "He could have been better at that last night. To me, that's a huge, huge positive. Here's a guy leaving the rink after a win wanting to be better."
Berglund has been better. His numbers this season (15 goals, 34 points) are already better in 55 games than they were last season in 71 games (13 goals, 26 points).
But if the Blues are going to get on a run for the ages here down the stretch, they need more than just their top line of David Backes, Andy McDonald and Brad Boyes supplying the offensive punch.
Berglund's line with T.J. Oshie and Alex Steen need to be on par with the top guns. And Berglund knows it.
"I'm just getting around the net and staying around there," Berglund said of his recent success. "I play on the inside and the puck is always going there, so I'm trying to stay around. Luckily, I've been able to get a couple goals.
"The second line needs to contribute as much as the first line. We're going to have to be around the net and put the puck there. Hopefully, we can create a lot of offense because we need it here with these important games."
After scoring 21 goals and picking up 47 points in 76 games his rookie season in 2008-09, Berglund seemed to go through the proverbial 'Sophomore Slump' a season ago. His confidence was lacking, he seemed lost in coach Andy Murray's system before Murray was fired midseason but he could never quite recapture his rookie magic under Payne initially.
But Berglund, 22, came into camp this season determined to be a solid two-way player, something sorely lacking last season. And despite some ups and downs in his third full NHL season, Berglund seems to be catching fire and doing whatever's necessary to help the Blues stay in the playoff race as long as can be.
"He's going to the net. He's been around the net, driven to the right areas," Payne said of Berglund. "His linemates have found him. He puts himself in the right situations.
"Here's a guy that we need to play a complete game. He's finding ways to chip in. He's a guy we need to do that."
Since linemate and friend Oshie returned to the Blues' lineup Jan. 18, it's no secret Berglund has been inspired as much as anyone. He's scored seven goals and added another four assists in 11 games.
"He's a great player obviously," Berglund said of Oshie. "He's got good vision and he's playing with a lot of energy out there. He's real fun to play with and he's a very good player for the team."
Said Oshie, "Me and Bergy respond very well together. We can communicate really well, in the locker room and on the bench. ... We watch film together, we do things together. We click both on and off the ice. He makes me a better player. I do whatever I can to bring out his best."
In 21 games prior to Oshie's return, Berglund had two goals (both in the same game) and another six assists. But his role was undefined playing with checking wingers for much of that time in Brad Winchester, B.J. Crombeen, even Ryan Reaves when he was called up.
The talent's there for Berglund. It's just a matter of keeping pace, staying even-keeled and continuing that success.
"You maintain your focus on what is creating that," Payne said. "He's been going to the net, he's been driving to the net on rush opportunities. The puck's been kicked out wide and he's gone to the right spots, and the puck's arrived there. It's not a fluke that going there, skill and ability pays off. It's important for him."
Said Berglund, who has 13 points in 13 games, "I don't want it to stop. I'm just going to play a little better here but keep going like it is now. We have important games to play and I want to contribute as much as I'm capable of."
The Blues will definitely need Berglund's contributions.