The Blues played the Canucks Friday, a team incentivized to lose as much as possible considering their position near the bottom of the standings—and therefore near the top of the NHL Draft lottery odds. But the points count just the same for the Blues, who can ill afford a slip up at this stage of the season if they hope to sneak back into the playoff picture.
Sure, you can’t win them all, and the Blues had already won three in a row coming into Friday, but when you get a late-March home match with a team that would benefit from pretending it’s allergic to points, it’s important to bag the two points. Thanks in part to a slick play from Kyle Brodziak and Patrik Berglund, the Blues did just that in a 4-1 triumph.
It took 40 seconds for Berglund to strike and give the Blues the lead in the opening period, and don't get it twisted, that was nifty. But that’s not the goal we want to talk about here, because it wasn't the only time Berglund lit the lamp in this one.
He scored an even cooler goal in the second period to extend the Blues’ lead to 2-0, but it wasn’t really what he did that made the goal so notable—it was more the way Brodziak created the scoring chance that really stood out.
During a penalty kill in the second period, Brodziak managed to turn the Canucks over, sending the puck bounding toward the St. Louis offensive zone. Considering Vancouver was on a man-advantage, it would have been acceptable for Brodziak to simply dump it deep to help wind down the PK.
But Brodziak knew he had Berglund in the middle of the ice, so he eschewed the conventional and raced after the puck. He caught up to it as he entered the offensive zone but Vancouver's Derrick Pouliot was right there on him, challenging for the puck. As Pouliot attempted to swipe it away, Brodziak calmly curled his stick around him and slid the puck to a wide open Berglund streaking down the center of the ice. Berglund finished off the play beneath Anders Nilsson’s right pad for the Blues’ first short-handed goal since Jaden Schwartz scored one in Winnipeg back on February 9th—and his first multi-goal game of the season.
“I knew right away that there was going to be two of us,” Brodziak said. “(Berglund) was coming pretty close behind me, just from the way the play happened at our blue line. I was just hoping I was going to be able to get there, I didn’t have a whole lot of gas left in the tank (on that shift). But thankfully, I got to the puck and he made a nice finish.”
Hockey players are often quick to praise the pass by a teammate that set up their own goal-scoring moment rather than take a little credit themselves for putting the biscuit in the basket. Sometimes it comes off as your typical corporate, team-first speech when we’d really just like to hear more about the goal-scorer’s perspective on a great play. This, however, was definitely a situation where all the praise heaped onto the assist-maker was warranted.
“Really good play,” Berglund said. “I didn’t even expect he was going to make that play. He gave me a breakaway, so a good job by him there.
“He’s paying attention to the details and doing all the small things right, and this year he’s really being rewarded.”
Mike Yeo was especially impressed by the sequence, and Brodziak’s ability to assess the situation on the ice and make the right play.
“First off, to win the race, to win the puck, but to have the vision and understand that Bergie’s got to step on the guy to be able to make that play,” Yeo said. “A guy like Brodzi does not make that play, ever, unless he knows that Bergie’s clearly in there, because obviously you’re killing a penalty. If there’s a turnover in that time, that’s a pretty high risk play. But he knows that Bergie’s there, he just has to put it into space. But it’s one thing to know it and think it, and it’s another thing to execute it.”