Sean Jeffries The Hockey Writers
Will The Real Patrik Berglund Please Stand Up?
Patrik Berglund is not just a forward for the St. Louis Blues, he’s one of Blues fans’ favorite whipping boys and a source of frustration for anyone who’s followed the Blues since he was drafted in the 1st round (25th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. The big Swede played his first NHL game in 2008 and has been failing to meet (unfairly high) expectations ever since.
This is the ONLY time I’m ever gonna say this, but Berglund has been one of our better players tonight. And that’s not saying much.
— STL!WANTS!THE!CUP! (@bleedblue1985) March 29, 2015
The Bigger They Are…
With four points (2G,2A) in his last three games he has flashed hints of what Blues fans have longed for his entire career. Did I mention he was big? At 6’3″ and 217lbs he fits the mold of traditional power forward in the NHL, yet Patrik Berglund has rarely played up to his size or used his body the way we might hope, knocking over defensemen and skating through the opposition to get the puck.
Instead we see a guy who, when he’s off his game, looks a little slow out there, always a step behind. Fans see Bergie taking penalties and wonder why he’s getting ice time ahead of Chris Porter. Patrik Berglund isn’t ever going to win a Selke Award but he’s averaged just under 24 PIM a season for his career. Hardly egregious numbers. He’s big and strong and we want to see him neutralizing the opposition as they try skating through the middle of the ice, but he’s not out there hitting much either.
To be fair, this season Berglund has been much-improved on the defensive side of the puck which has earned him regular time killing penalties. But prior to a goal and assist on March versus Columbus, Patrik Berglund hadn’t netted a goal in over a dozen games and had only a single point in that span. Bergie potted an empty-netter last night, courtesy of Jori Lehtera, giving him 10 goals on the season, about half as many as most of the fanbase believes he should have. His career high of 22 came in 2010-11 and he’s failed to hit that mark since.
Patrik Berglund has been even less effective offensively in the playoffs, with 4 goals in 23 career post-season games. Three of those all came in 2011-12 as he finished second on the team with 7 playoff points. Bergie had 17 regular season goals that season (38 pts) and has been on the decline since. He was all but invisible in the playoffs this past season. Chris Stewart had a similar experience in his last season with the Blues and was run out of town. Berglund was given a 3-year extension worth $11 million this past July.
I’d argue that from the day he was drafted Patrik Berglund has been overvalued by the Blues, the NHL and certainly by fans. This is not a guy who lit up the scoreboard as a junior or even in International play with Team Sweden, yet he was drafted in the 1st round and everyone assumed someone with his build would turn into the next Keith Tkachuk. I used to see that potential in Bergie, but 20+ goals per season is simply not very realistic. He’s only 26 years old with 7 full NHL seasons under his belt I think we’ve probably seen as much as we’ll ever see from number 21.
Contributing To A Winner
One of the strengths of the St. Louis Blues right now is their depth and they’ll need all four lines to contribute to have success in the playoffs. Patrik Berglund is chipping in lately but should we expect that to continue? Has he found a place on a line with David Backes and Dmitri Jaskin?
When Alexander Steen and Vladi Tarasenko return and the playoffs begin that line experiment will likely come to an end, but they looked good last night. Maybe Ken Hitchcock will try it out again tonight. If Bergie can feed off and duplicate even some of the tenacity Jaskin has shown while continuing to play solid defense every shift, I think Blues fans are going to be pretty happy down the stretch. The result may very well be the first Stanley Cup for St. Louis.
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