Stop for a second and think back to the 2008-09 season. The Blues used a surge through the end of the season to catapult the team to a playoff berth. At the time, the "Kid Line" was running wild through each team it played and causing migraines for anyone that stood in their way. Comprised of TJ Oshie, David Perron and Patrik Berglund, fans believed they had three stars in the making. Oshie has gone on to become arguably the team's best two-way forward while Perron has shown some incredible talent in creating offense. So ... what happened to Patrik Berglund? The answer may surprise you.In his rookie season back in 2008-09, Berglund finished fifth on the Blues in total points with 47 trailing only Brad Boyes, David Backes, David Perron and Keith Tkachuk. He netted an impressive 21 goals over the course of 76 games that season which led fans to believe he could be the next big thing in St. Louis alongside the other fan favorites of Oshie and Perron.
Then came the 2009-10 season.
Expected to be a formidable component on the offense, Berglund struggled to find to find consistency. His struggles led him to be used in numerous different line combinations and saw his playing time even come to a standstill as he was occasionally a healthy scratch. Berglund finished last season with 13 goals and 13 assists for a total of 26 points - totals that were well below the expectations of not only the fans, but of the organization as well. Months such as November of 2009 (10 games) saw him tally just one point while January 2010 resulted in just two points.
Let's skip ahead to the current season.
Through 33 games this season, Berglund has scored six goals and added 12 assists for a total of 18 points. That's right - this means he has 38 games to score the eight more points needed to match his production last season.
Going further behind the numbers, Berglund's rookie campaign saw him score roughly 0.61
points-per-game while the ugly 2009-10 season saw him score 0.36
points-per-game. Through 33 contests this year, he is averaging about 0.54
Whether you choose to see it or not, the numbers do indicate that there has been improvement when comparing the Berglund of 2009-10 and the current one we see today. With the St. Louis offense struggling across the board last season and in the early part of this year in addition to numerous key injuries, I feel these numbers aren't being padded or influenced by the skaters surrounding him in any extreme way. It's not as if the Blues added a major offensive star that is suddenly contributing to Berglund's improved ratios this season when compared to last - the roster is mostly the same.
Now, that being said, there is a main reason fans are restless. Several times in any given game, Berglund appears slow, tired and sluggish on the ice. Some have labeled it as taking a shift off, some have called out his effort and some seem to be noticing this for the first time this season.
Think back again to 2008-09 when the "Kid Line" was first introduced. Oshie's impressive hits and Perron's nifty work with the stick usually stole the show. Now I'm just throwing this out there, but perhaps in the excitement that was the "Kid Line" and the playoff push that Berglund's slow downs and sudden sluggish shifts might have gone overlooked behind the pinball that is TJ Oshie. Perhaps amidst the craziness that was that sudden surge, Berlund was practicing the same habits we see today, but was enjoying better offensive results thanks to an offense that was clicking. Perhaps all it took was for the offense to slow down and the playoff push excitement to wear off for the true analysis of these skaters to emerge.
For my money, Berglund isn't a disappointment but is rather a case the jury is still out on. He is a player that made a very good season for himself in a year that saw a ton of positives around the whole organization in 2008-09. When things fell flat last season, Berglund fell flat too. Did we expect too much? Definitely. Are we wrong to call out his lack of hustle on given shifts? Nope. Should we back off the edge and wait until the year develops before making any clear decision? I hope so.
The third year is often the telltale sign in a skater's career and it usually points us in a direction of what we can expect in the future. Many times skaters have emerged into the NHL and put up some nice numbers. All too often they follow it up with a sophomore slump. Then there is the third year ... the year without any catchy nickname or superstitions connected to it.
I have been pretty critical on Berglund the past week and a half, as too often I feel he is not putting in 100% on the ice and too often I feel he looks more like a guy trying to skate through sand than a guy gliding on ice. This is an area that needs to be improved upon, but might be one that will improve when he is back skating in roles he is more accustomed too, which could be a result of the makeshift lines caused by the injury bug. Berglund may also have been hiding a minor injury prior to him leaving the game against Atlanta, which may have been slowing his pace to a crawl.
Chemistry is also a factor we shouldn't overlook. Berglund's best year came alongside breakout years for other skaters on the club as well. Not surprisingly, when the Blues best scorer in 2008-09, Brad Boyes, barely appears in 2009-10, we shouldn't be surprised to see a ripple effect elsewhere.
My last thought is that all fans should keep an open mind and remain realistic. To those clamoring for a trade or declaring the Blues wasted a draft pick, I request that you give the matter time.
I'll never understand a fan that demands a player be traded when he struggles. For what? Do these fans think other clubs aren't paying attention? In this scenario, or even a Brad Boyes scenario, the possibility of the Blues getting anything of any real value is pretty unlikely. Just like the stock market - you have to buy low and sell high. Boyes and Berglund are both "low" on their respected markets ... keep that in mind while you pound your trade drum. Sometimes you do have to fold the hand when you know you're beat, but you also have to know when to hold them to get the most value for your cards - even if they aren't what you had been hoping for.
To conclude this novel, I'll leave you with this: Keep an eye on Berglund, but don't strain yourself on him any more than you are on any other skater on the ice. He has been having his troubles, but he shouldn't be the whipping boy. To find a silver lining, his pace this season is improved over last season - the same can not be said by other players. Let's put another chunk of the season behind us before we start reaching for the "freakout" button as many fans have done.