TORONTO - Patrik Berglund will return to the lineup tonight when the Blues meet the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre (6 p.m. CT, FSMW, KMOX).
So, where does Berglund fit?
For now, it’s on the right wing alongside Magnus Paajarvi and David Backes, but Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said he’ll need to be remain flexible for the next 7-10 days.
“If we get a dozen minutes out of him, we’d be pretty happy,” Hitchcock said after Saturday’s morning skate. “He’s not going to play special teams, it’s all 5-on-5. He’ll take face-offs. Expectations have to be realistic, but he’s been a good player on our team for a number of years now. Anytime you add good players, there’s a comfort zone.
“But all the practice, skating and endurance work doesn’t matter until you get into game competition,” Hitchcock added. “We’ve got a week or 10 days to go through with ‘Bergy' before he’s up to speed. But just on moxie alone, he’s going to help us for sure.”
Regardless of how much he can contribute right off the bat, Berglund’s teammates are happy to see him back in the lineup for the first time in eight months.
“It’s a big body that worked his butt off to get back a little earlier than expected, I think. That’s a great thing,” Blues captain David Backes said. “It’s another very capable body we’re going to have the ability to insert into the lineup. He looks fresh, looks good. I can’t wait to see him in action tonight. He’ll assimilate with the rest of us in the blue-collar style we have.
“I’d love to see him get on the board right away tonight.”
“We all know what Bergy can do on the ice - he’s shown it before and he was awesome in the playoffs last year,” Paajarvi said. “Hopefully he can start off right from the get-go.”
Berglund’s last game was Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. He originally injured his shoulder in April 2011, but played through the pain and opted for surgery after re-aggravating the injury in the offseason.
“It’s going to be really hard to play in the beginning,” Berglund said in an exclusive interview with stlouisblues.com. “It’s been almost eight months since I last played a game, so I’ve got to be smart, have short shifts and all that, and really focus on those types of things so I don’t hurt my team.”
Check out the entire interview, which includes quotes from Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong, is available by clicking here.
With Berglund back in the lineup, here are what the lines looked like at the morning skate at Air Canada Centre:
Alexander Steen - Paul Stastny - Vladimir Tarasenko
Magnus Paajarvi - David Backes - Patrik Berglund
Robby Fabbri - Jori Lehtera - Troy Brouwer
Dmitrij Jaskin - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Joel Edmundson - Kevin Shattenkirk
Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko
The annual St. Louis Classic will be held at Shaw Park in Clayton tonight. Festivities begin with an hour-long pregame show at 5 p.m., followed by Blues / Maple Leafs on giant screens near the rink. Brett Hull, Bernie Federko and Louie are among the scheduled guests for the event, which is free to attend. Skate rental is $10. Learn more at www.foxsportsmidwest.com.
The Blues have won four of their last five games against the Maple Leafs, with the only loss coming last month: 4-1 on Dec. 5 in St. Louis.
The Blues have won eight of their last nine games at Air Canada Center (8-0-1) while scoring at least three goals in each of those games. The last trip to Toronto resulted in a 6-1 win with six different goal scorers and three assists each from Alexander Steen and Jori Lehtera.
The Blues finished the 2015 calendar year with a 52-25-8 record (112 points), which ties for the third-highest point total in the League.
The Maple Leafs are 14-15-7 (35 points), which ranks seventh in the Atlantic Division.
Alexander Steen has 11 points (three goals, eight assists) and a +8 rating in his last five games vs. Toronto.