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Berglund Hushing His Critics

Were you done with this guy?

As a fan, you may have been after last season.  The then-21 year old Swede finished his second-NHL season with a jaw-dropping 13 goals and 13 assists in 71 games played, earning him a permanent seat in the Blues doghouse.  For the last half of the season, Berglund was showcasing his skills on the fourth scoring line with the likes of Brad Winchester and B.J. Crombeen.

Berglund gave the Blues coaching staff reason to believe that he belonged in the same spot to start this season, posting just four goals and one assist in his first 13 games played.  It seemed that Berglund was the only one not clicking to start the season, as in that 13 game span the Blues were an astonishing 9-2-2.  After that, Berglund stepped up just when the Blues needed him the most.

On November 10, the Blues suffered their toughest loss in Columbus, getting shelled 8-1.  But the biggest loss was not even on the scoreboard; then-leading point-scorer T.J. Oshie broke his ankle in the loss and would not be back until much later in the season.

It was the wake-up call that Berglund needed.

 

The young center put together a five-game point-scoring streak, racking up eight points.  While Berglund was still not getting all the bounces that he so desperately needed after the streak, it was very apparent that he was skating harder and was more of a factor in the offensive zone.

If there was a breakout-game for Berglund, it came wrapped in a box with a big bow on December 23.  The 2006 first-round pick put up two goals against the dreaded Detroit Red Wings to lead the Blues to a 4-3 victory at Scottrade Center.  Both goals came just over four minutes apart and were bombs from outside the scoring area.  He proved in this game that his accurate shot would be his greatest asset for the Blues.

"When he gets that first stride going, he's a load," St. Louis Head Coach Davis Payne said after the Blues win. "We got a real strong game out of him."

Berglund’s play has improved even more since his friend and teammate T.J. Oshie returned to the lineup on January 18.  Berglund scored the first goal of the game against the Kings that night, sneaking in front and tapping in a perfect pass from teammate Matt D’Agostini on a 5-on-3 power-play.

Berglund, who has amassed ten goals and 21 points in 22 games since Oshie’s return, seems to be more comfortable on the ice.  He has been firing more shots on net which has resulted in more goals for his stats.  Berglund had three shots last game, including two hard shots in his first shift that resulted in the first goal of the game.

Berglund is creeping up on his best NHL season, just three goals and three points away from tying his rookie season numbers.  The key could very well be that he is taking more shots and passing less.  Berglund, now in his third season, has already taken 142 shots, an average of 2.15 shots per game.  In his previous two seasons, the Vesteras, Sweden native averaged 1.85 shots per game.

Berglund will see his contract expire at the end of the 2010-11 campaign, giving him restricted free-agent status at the age of 22.  His current contract has him making approximately $1.25 million, so a raise will probably be warranted.  Factoring in Berglund’s lack of minutes-played and lack of production in his second season, his asking price could be anywhere from $1.5 - $3 million.  Berglund is not the only Blue that will be a free-agent; Oshie, Crombeen, D’Agostini, Vladimir Sobotka, Cam Janssen, Dave Scatchard, Roman Polak and Tyson Strachan will all be looking for a new contract as well.  With $19 million of cap room but facing financial troubles, the Blues will have to be tight with giving out raises.  Berglund should be a top-priority though.

After all, we are not done with this guy anymore.

Berglund Notes: Before Oshie’s injury, Berglund scored 4G 1A 5P in 13GP.  During Oshie’s injury, Berglund posted 4G 14A 18P in 31GP.  Since Oshie has returned, Oshie has 10G 11A 21P in 22GP….  Berglund is on pace for 55P this season; his career-high is 47P achieved in 2008-09...  If Berglund can reach 52 points, he will double his totals from last season.

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