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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 ET / Features
By Mike G. Morreale  - NHL.com Staff Writer
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Bergenheim Once Again Proving Playoffs Are His Time
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




1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54


J. Huberdeau 79 15 39 10 54
J. Jokinen 81 8 36 -2 44
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
A. Ekblad 81 12 27 12 39
B. Boyes 78 14 24 11 38
A. Barkov 71 16 20 -4 36
J. Hayes 72 19 16 -4 35
B. Campbell 82 3 24 4 27
B. Pirri 49 22 2 6 24
D. Bolland 53 6 17 4 23
R. Luongo 28 19 12 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 6 7 2 .892 3.01

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