Sunday, April 5, 2015

Berglund getting involved offensively

Without Steen, Tarasenko, Blues' 2006 first 
round pick becoming more engaged on ice recently

CHICAGO -- Patrik Berglund had gone 11 games without a point that also included one healthy scratch.

From an offensive production standpoint, it was a tough go. Twenty points through the first 69 games is not what the Blues envisioned when they resigned Berglund last summer to a three-year, $11.1 million contract.

Fans had gotten down on Berglund, who eventually removed his Twitter account with so much venom shot in his direction.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Patrik Berglund (21) has four goals and six points the past four games after
a stretch of zero points and a healthy scratch in 12.
The Blues tried different line combinations, a switch from center to wing to try and help motivate the former 2006 first-round pick.

But what's seemed to spawn a revival here in the past three games, where 23 percent of Berglund's offensive output in 73 games has come from.

After a two-goal performance in a wild 7-5 victory at Dallas Friday, Berglund has six points (four goals) in the past four games, and it took the Blues' top two scorers (Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen) to be void of the lineup.

"I don’t know. I'm just trying to elevate my game," said Berglund, who has 12 goals and 14 points on the season. "I know how it is to play in the playoffs. We obviously got to play on a high level. Just trying to work hard and try to get in the mix way more. It’s been paying off. Trying to prepare for the upcoming weeks here.

"It feels nice. Trying to hang around the net a little more. I've been there before, but now I'm getting a hold of the puck and getting some nice tips. Hopefully I can keep it going."

The fan backlash hasn't affected Berglund's efforts to get on the right side of his game, according to teammates. Closest friend T.J. Oshie said so.

"I don't think he pays attention to that stuff," Oshie said. "I've never heard him say anything about it. He's really focused on the team and team winning and doing the right things of the team needs. I don't think he's too focused on that, but it's definitely good to see him get the success.

"This last year-and-a-half or so, we see it on the bench, there's been so many times where he's been so close to having breakout games and games where he's gotten so many good opportunities and they just haven't really gone in. You feel like he's got the worst luck, but they're starting to find the net and it's good to see, it's fun to see. It's fun to see him smiling and I'm happier than probably anyone on the team to see him get the success that he deserves."

What a bonus it would be if the Blues (48-23-7), who face their biggest test of the season Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks (48-24-6), could add another 
scorer into the mix should Berglund continue to remain consistent. He's had three two-point games in the past four after having only one (a two-assist game on Jan. 6 at Arizona) in 69 games.

"Well, his confidence is growing because he’s winning battles," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Berglund. "He's staying in the battle longer. He's giving it more success. It's giving us more zone time. He's just staying in the battle way longer.

"He's challenging with wide speed finally. He's taking the puck wide and he's taking it deeper into the zone, which now he's able to use his size. His turn-ups were too shallow. ... Now he's got a size advantage and by taking it deep into the zone (and) then making the play, he's able to control whoever he's playing against because he's a big guy. This is three games in a row he's started to play that way. It's been a big advantage."

With Tarasenko (71) and Steen (62) out of the lineup, the Blues are without 28.4 percent of their scoring in the lineup.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Alex Pietrangelo (27) waits to congratulate Patrik Berglund (right) after
Berglund scored a goal Friday in Dallas.

So how does one pick up that slack, it help alleviate some of what's void? Get a collective effort from multiple people to chip in.

Berglund, who has 118 goals and 246 points in 509 regular season games, would be a strong add with much of the focus being on the likes of Jaden Schwartz, David Backes, T.J. Oshie and Paul Stastny.

"We sure do want them back, but when people are out, someone's got to come in and fill their shoes, do the best they can to fill their shoes," Berglund said of Tarasenko and Steen. "We've been getting some scoring from others, which is good."

"He's started to smile a little bit and have some fun out there and maybe let the pressure of not having a phenomenal season fall off his back," Backes said of Berglund. "All of the sudden, he's in the right spot. He's tipping pucks, finding ways to contribute. Having another asset like that and threat is helping everyone around him."

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