St. Louis Blues: Why Patrik Berglund Needs to Step Up and Shine

Steven ConklinCorrespondent IIJanuary 21, 2012

ST. LOUIS, MO - JANUARY 19: Patrik Berglund #21 of the St. Louis Blues takes a shot on goal against Shawn Horcoff #10 of the Edmonton Oilers at the Scottrade Center on January 19, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The St. Louis Blues are playing top-notch hockey, and the buzz surrounding the club is growing after each game.

Coach Ken Hitchcock has preached a "total team effort" since taking the reigns from Davis Payne. His philosophy is working—players are setting each other up, finishing checks and cycling pucks and throwing the gloves off when needed to spark the team. 

As a result, many players on this team are having incredible individual seasons. 

TJ Oshie is having one of the best seasons of his career and has been an offensive spark plug. Alex Pietrangelo is blazing right now, registering a point in eight straight games. David Backes leads the team in points while standing as one of the NHL's best captains. 

Of course, the Blues would not be where they are without the goaltending duo of Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak. Elliott is headed back to Ottawa, where he started his career, for the All-Star Game. Halak hasn't allowed a goal in more than 150 minutes and heads into tonight's contest against Buffalo with two straight shutouts. 

However, one player isn't enjoying the same success of his teammates this season. Center Patrik Berglund has played in every game this year for the Blues but has only registered 18 points.

While his point total is near that of his fellow forwards, the big Swede has just two points in his last 11 contests and is pointless in his last five. It would be an understatement to say Berglund is having a disappointing season.

In 2010-2011, he had 22 goals and 52 points. Those totals look out of reach with Berglund's current pace.

The grittier, net-crashing style of offense Ken Hitchcock wants his team playing needs to start with Berglund.

At 6'4", the former first-round pick is the guy you want crowding the crease and giving the opposing goalie a hard time. With that will come more goals from deflections and more opportunities for him to hit the point with setups. 

The other concern with No. 21 is his defensive play this year. While the team defense has been stellar, Berglund has an underwhelming minus-two rating. Penalty killing is not much of an excuse. Berglund's top teammates have positive ratings and so should he. With such a big frame, he needs to be more aggressive and make an impact along the boards. 

Berglund needs to start clicking things together and help this offense improve as the season's battles will only get more important. If he can pick things up and play like he did in 2010-2011, this Blues team will see a great rise in offense.

Berglund has the potential and is capable of being the best scorer on this club. 

And that's exactly what the Blues need to come out on top.