Patrik Berglund doesn’t get enough credit for being a big, solid player. Maybe it’s because he tends to get cast as half of a goofy duo with either Alex Pietrangelo or Kevin Shattenkirk in every Blues commercial ever made. Maybe because he’s Swedish, and they’re supposed to be neutral.
Whatever the reason he gets overlooked, Berglund decided to remind the Panthers – and everyone in Scottrade – that he means business:
I was listening to the game on KMOX in my car when the hit happened, and the sound of Kulikov hitting the boards was louder than Chris Kerber announcing the hit. That’s the sound of a job well done.
The Blues have lost but one game at home, which was the home opener against the Nashville Predators. Since then, they’ve been rolling happily along, ending this five game homestand with a 4-0-1 record, good for nine out of a possible ten points. Coach Ken Hitchcock has lit a fire under this team, who is playing the kind of physical and tenacious hockey that fans have expected to see all year. They haven’t let an opponent score past the first period in their last five games, which is a welcome change from the team’s inability to play a consistent 60 minutes of hockey. This team plays hard for the full hour, and you get the feeling that they’d play hard for longer than that if they could.
David Backes netted two goals tonight, one in the first period and an on one knee empty netter from St. Louis’ own zone that was locked on Florida’s net. Chris Porter and Kris Russell also scored, while Vladimir Sobotka and T.J. Oshie narrowly missed chances on Jose Theodore. Oshie and Sobotka were like two pinballs on the ice tonight, and I honestly think that Florida’s defense had issues containing them.
Unfortunately, the Blues penalty kill had to work overtime again to kill off a major penalty – the second in as many games. Scott Nichol got called at 19:44 of the first period for a spear on Tomas Kopecky. Regardless of whether or not the call was legitimate, the fact that the Blues have been undisciplined enough to put themselves in the remote vicinity of having to kill a major is concerning. The penalty kill is improving by leaps and bounds – it was perfect again tonight – but it’s still not foolproof. A five minute kill is next to impossible at times to get through. St. Louis was masterful at getting through this one, but they need to try to not have another any time soon.
The Blues are off to Minnesota to take on the Wild Saturday at 7:00 before returning to Scottrade Tuesday to take on the Los Angeles Kings at 6:30.
Blues forward Evgeny Grachev played exceedingly well during the pre-season he had three goals and two assists playing on a line with Jamie Langenbrunner and David Backes. The scenery does make a difference with production, however. After the injury to Andy McDonald left room for him in the line-up, he’s been on the fourth line with Scott Nichol, Chris Porter, or Ryan Reaves. None of these guys are bad players, but the duty of the fourth line is a protect the puck/shutdown the opposition’s top guys kind of role. You don’t have scads of chances for scoring.
Chris Stewart’s suspension, however, left another hole in the line-up which was considerably higher up on the totem pole. According to Lou Korac, Grachev will be on the second line tonight with Patrik Berglund and Matt D’Agostini. D’Agostini so far has five goals and two assists on the season, and Berglund has four goals and three assists. When you consider that Berglund has very solid playmaking abilities, as can D’Agostini, this could be a dangerous line with three of a kind on it.