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From The Press Box


From The Press Box is a weekly column written by FloridaPanthers.com and NHL.com writer Alain Poupart. Poupart has been covering the Panthers and the NHL for 20 years.

Have a question for Alain? Be sure to ask him through twitter @apoupartFins.


Like They Never Left

Panthers forwards Sean Bergenheim and Jesse Winchester have enjoyed solid comebacks after a year away from the NHL.

Wednesday, 04.9.2014 / 5:00 PM ET / From The Press Box
By Alain Poupart  - FloridaPanthers.com
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Like They Never Left
Panthers forwards Sean Bergenheim and Jesse Winchester have enjoyed solid comebacks after a year away from the NHL.
Forward Sean Bergenheim celebrates a goal at BB&T Center against the Nashville Predators (Getty Images).

After scoring the game-winning goal against the Dallas Stars on Sunday with a nifty backhand redirect of a pass from defenseman Colby Robak, Panthers forward Sean Bergenheim reflected on his comeback season.

In essence, Bergenheim said it was nice to prove he still could be an effective player in the National Hockey League after missing all of the 2013 season. While he hasn’t expressed those thoughts to the media himself, Jesse Winchester could say the same thing. Like Bergenheim, he was out of the National Hockey League last season and has bounced back this season with a strong performance.

When it comes to Winchester, his contributions are more subtle, playing soundly in all three zones. Winchester sure has made his share of plays in the offensive zone, particularly during a four-game stretch in late January when he had two goals and three assists. Included in that stretch was a three-assist performance in the 5-1 victory at Pittsburgh, no doubt one of the Panthers’ best efforts of the season.

Winchester, signed as a free agent last summer, has been valuable mostly because of his two-way game. No forward on the Panthers roster has spent more time killing penalties this season and Winchester usually is the first forward on the ice in those situations.

As for Bergenheim, he’s second on the team with 16 goals, one shy of his career-high. He scored 17 in 2011-12 in his first season with the Panthers while cementing his reputation as a clutch playoff performer with three goals and three assists in the seven-game series against the New Jersey Devils.

But it’s been a tough road Since then it was a tough road for Bergenheim, one that left everyone wondering when and if he could be a factor again for the Panthers. That’s clearly what he’s done this season, holding a spot on the top line for most of the season.

The Panthers were at their best offensively this season when the trio of Bergenheim, Brad Boyes and Aleksander Barkov really started clicking. Each player brings a unique skill set, and Bergenheim’s forte always has been his relentlessness and willingness to get close to the net.

With so much of the focus, and rightfully so, on the Panthers’ young guns and up-and-coming prospects, it’s easy to overlook the contributions of some of the veterans. But Bergenheim and Winchester clearly were factors this season.

In the process, both players enjoyed a nice comeback to the NHL.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
12 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 74 13 36 9 49
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
J. Jokinen 76 8 33 -4 41
B. Boyes 74 13 23 10 36
A. Ekblad 76 11 24 10 35
J. Hayes 67 18 14 -6 32
A. Barkov 66 14 17 -3 31
B. Campbell 77 3 23 2 26
B. Pirri 44 21 2 6 23
D. Bolland 48 5 16 1 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 26 18 12 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
 
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