We wrap up our individual player reviews with the two top performers for the Blues this season. Patrik Berglund bounced back from a sophomore slump in a big way this year while David Backes used the Olympic momentum to showcase his true potential. Much was expected from both of these players and both passed with flying colors.
Patrik Berglund: Berglund jumped on to the scene three seasons ago and made a huge splash in his rookie year. In 76 games Berglund recorded 21 goals and 26 assists but it was his +19 rating that was the most surprising stat. To put up big offensive numbers as a rookie is impressive but to couple that with solid back checking is Datsyukian.
Going into his sophomore season the Blues were expecting even bigger things from the big Swede, but Berglund got off to a slow start and could never really recover. In 71 games he was only able to muster 13 goals and 13 assists and his plus minus rating plummeted to a -5 that year.
An off year, though, did not discourage Patrik and he was back with a vengeance this year. Patrik played in all but 1 game this year and it seemed like his game was back. Taking pucks from the side boards to the middle of the ice and using his body and soft hands to create opportunities for himself and his teammates.
Berglund recorded career highs in goals with 22, assists with 30 and points with 52. While he did finish with a -3 rating, the Blues were more than happy to trade some lack of defense for his scoring touch. Berglund’s growth as a player also showed through in his point totals.
Patrik split his stats almost evenly between home and away and in wins and losses. Patrik also had 16 points in tie games, 2 goals in clutch situations and 6 goals and 6 assists in the last 5 minutes of the game. To be in his third year and to play at such a high pace in all situations is a credit to his maturity and the make up of the team around him.
Trend-Up and Up. Berglund has impressed many in his short career and while many fans were upset with his drop off in his second year its hard to ignore the stats. While not the same player as the either of the Sedins, Berglund did have more combined points in his first three seasons then either Sedin and look where they are at.
Berglund has size and skill, which he has used to his advantage so far in his career. He has been labeled as the poor man’s Joe Thornton and I for one believe that he is every bit as good as Jumbo Joe, with just a little bit better attitude. Berglund can become a star in this league but he has to keep working and using what got him here to make that happen.
David Backes:David Backes began the year by beating up Canada’s finest and earning much respect from NHL fans throughout America. He finished the year as the clear cut face of this organization and the future Captain of the St. Louis Blues.
Along with Matt D’Agostini, Backes played in all 82 games this year and had his best statistical season in his career. Backes led the team with 31 goals and a +32 rating and his 31 assists were tied for second behind Alex Pietrangelo. Over the last three seasons, Backes has missed only 3 games and has been the heart and soul of this team in the midst of all the injuries.
Its this mix of longevity and skill that have propelled Backes to the top in St. Louis. Like Berglund, Backes has shown a propensity for coming up big in big situations. In tie games David had 10 goals and 9 assists, 3 goals in clutch situations and 19 points in the final 5 minutes. In losses Backes did his best to bring his team back, with 19 goals while losing compared to 12 in winning situations.
David was a better home player than away with 17 goals and 17 assists at home but he did like to play in Chicago. He had his best game of the season in a 7-5 loss to the Hawks where he scored a goal and had 3 assists. In 3 games in Chicago, Backes had 2 goals and 4 assists, which was the best against any other team he faced on the road.
With the trade of Captain Eric Brewer to the Lightning much speculation was that Backes would be the next captain but the Blues chose to hold off on naming a new captain until the next season. While his name is still at the top of the list, no one has of yet been named captains or alternates for the team.
Trend-Up. Backes is the face of the Blues and he will eventually be named captain, whether its this year or sometime in the future. He is beloved by fans in the city and has a cult following like that of Chuck Norris. If he can keep up his play from the last two years he will continue to put up big numbers as Keith Tkachuk’s replacement in front of the net.
Backes’ reputation will only grow as he also competes internationally with Team USA and that is good news for Blues fans. To have a prominent figure in the NHL again is what this town and team needs and we haven’t seen that since Al MacInnis retired. Backes is a symbol for this team and will hopefully be the man to lead this team to a title and lift Lord Stanley’s Cup soon.
That wraps up our individual player reviews for the 2010-11 season. Hope you all liked what you read and if you have any opinions please feel free to comment. We will be coming out with our season preview shortly as well as a look at the roster and line setups.