ST. LOUIS — Lightning defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron could not say exactly when he realized his slap shot was a formidable weapon.
Perhaps, he said, when he was 4 or 5 years old playing in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, and his father told him he had to ease up a bit.
"My dad would tell me to lay off my shots because the goalies are scared," Bergeron recalled. "Most of the kids at the time couldn't even lift the puck off the ice. Every now and then we still talk about that. It's funny."
Bergeron is just one of those guys who can shoot a puck.
A couple of years ago, he said, when he played for the Canadiens, he was clocked during a team skills competition at 104 mph, good enough to win 15 of the 18 hardest-shot contests at the All-Star Game.
"It's hard," goaltender Dwayne Roloson said of his teammate's shot. "Nothing more needs to be said."
Sure, if Bergeron was having an ordinary season. But this one has indications of a breakout.
Bergeron, 31, is tied with Steven Stamkos for the team lead with 16 points, and he entered Friday tied for the league lead among defensemen. His 13 assists were tied for fifth among all skaters, though only one behind the leaders.
And his third-period goal Wednesday, on a blink-or-you'll-miss-it one-timer from the high slot, sent Wednesday's 2-1 win over the Flyers into overtime.
"I knew the lane was open," Bergeron said. "When you shoot one-timers and you feel like you have the lane, you aim for a small area and try to rip the cover off it. I felt like I got it all."
Bergeron, 5 feet 9, 198 pounds, said the power behind his shot is natural: "I don't have that special exercise I'm hiding from everybody else."
Asked to describe Bergeron's shot, coach Guy Boucher joked, "I don't know. I don't see the puck go by."
Seriously, he said, Bergeron has textbook technique.
There is the sharp transfer of weight from back foot to front, the wrist snap when the stick blade meets the puck and an exaggerated follow-through that adds even more oomph.
Bergeron said he dials down the speed sometimes to find better accuracy and give teammates chances for deflections.
Not that getting a big blast on the goalie is a bad thing. As Roloson said, "It's so hard to control, it creates rebounds and chaos down low."
Even so, Bergeron said, "I'm shooting more wristers instead of trying to shoot that big bomb that's going to get me more blocks or missing the net. I'm trying to vary the shot to try to hit the net."
Bergeron has done that plenty against the Blues, whom the Lightning faces tonight at the Scottrade Center. In 15 games against St. Louis, he has four goals and 12 points.
"It's just something that was given to me," Bergeron said of his shot. "It's a tool in the tool box."
"It always stings," Roloson said of getting hit with a Bergeron blast. "It's one of those things, when you see him, you try to get out of the way."
The kids in Trois-Rivieres could have told him that.