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Bergenheim Once Again Proving Playoffs Are His Time

Sean Bergenheim has a new Florida address this season and is proving to be a pivotal part of the Panthers' offense in their series with the Devils.

Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 3:03 PM / Features
By Mike G. Morreale  - NHL.com Staff Writer
Forward Sean Bergenheim

NEWARK, N.J. -- Is there any doubt playoff hockey brings out the best in Florida Panthers left wing Sean Bergenheim?

After missing out on all the fun of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in his first five seasons with the New York Islanders -- the team that drafted him with the 22nd pick in 2002 -- Bergenheim has proven to be one tough hombre the past two seasons in the State of Florida.

It all started last season with the Tampa Bay Lightning and has seemingly gathered steam with the Panthers in 2011-12.

Bergenheim hopes his success continues on Tuesday when the Panthers visit Prudential Center to face the New Jersey Devils in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series, which is even at a game apiece.

"It's not only his goal-scoring touch with timely goals, but even though he's not an abrasive player, he's a hard player to play against," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "He goes out there, is engaged, he's involved in every play, and he has a good stick. And sometimes an effective stick is as good as a big, strong, physical guy."

In his first playoff game with the Panthers last Friday, Bergenheim scored the team's first goal in a 3-2 loss to the Devils at BankAtlantic Center. In a 4-2 victory in Game 2 on Sunday, he notched an assist to boost his career playoff total to 10 goals and 13 points in 18 games.

He's not only notched two points for the Panthers this postseason, but also leads the team with 11 hits. He seems to have found a home on a line with center Marcel Goc and right wing Mikael Samuelsson.

"I think we're playing responsible hockey and we make it hard for the opponent to play us," Bergenheim told NHL.com. "I don't think there's any line out there that we can't handle. Also, we've chipped in offensively. We're pretty well-balanced. We are a two-way line, and we have offense and some skill. That's what makes it work."

During the 2010 offseason, Bergenheim signed a one-year contract with the Lightning and played a big role in helping the club advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against the eventual Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. He ranked second on the team with nine goals and fifth with 32 hits in 16 playoff games.

"Going through that experience really made me even hungrier to get back there this year," Bergenheim said.

On the opening day of free agency last July, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon went on a spending spree, inking Bergenheim to a four-year contract. The 28-year-old Finn finished the regular season with a career-high 17 goals and six assists in 62 games, despite being sidelined twice by injuries. In October, he sat out seven games with a lower-body injury, and in December missed 12 more with a groin strain.

"It was tough [being injured], because I felt I could give a lot and felt ready to go this season and show what I could do," Bergenheim said. "I really couldn't play at 100 percent the first part of the season, and twice I had to take a break and rehab and get the injury to feel as good as I possibly could.

"It was frustrating, coming to new team, wanting to impress and wanting to take the next step. But that's in the past … we're in the playoffs, and I'm having fun and feeling good now."

In addition to Bergenheim, Tallon also signed Goc, Scottie Upshall, Jose Theodore, ex-Panther Ed Jovanovski and Tomas Fleischmann during free agency.

"We had a lot of new guys come in and, combined with the veterans who were already here and anxious to see the team do well, it all came together," Bergenheim said. "Speaking for the new guys, I know we all wanted to change the course of the organization a little bit. Personally, I think it's a reflection of the new guys and the old guys here. I'm very proud we made the playoffs but, having said that, we haven't won anything yet.

"It's been a good season so far, but we don't want it to end."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer

UPCOMING EVENTS

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 76 16 22 -14 38
S. Upshall 76 15 22 1 37
B. Campbell 82 7 30 -6 37
B. Boyes 78 21 15 -6 36
S. Bergenheim 62 16 13 -16 29
J. Huberdeau 69 9 19 -5 28
T. Fleischmann 80 8 20 -18 28
T. Gilbert 73 3 25 -5 28
B. Pirri 49 13 12 6 25
A. Barkov 54 8 16 -3 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 25 23 7 .919 2.40
S. Clemmensen 6 7 1 .896 3.09
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