When you look at every team in not only the NHL, but all other professional sports, they all have that one special player that just seems to make everything click. For the Penguins it’s Sidney Crosby, for the Caps its Alex Ovechkin. That player is called an X factor. If you look up the word X factor on dictionary.com the definition is, “a hard to describe influence or quality; an important element with unknown consequences.” If you look at the example that is given, “The new center on the basketball team is the X factor.”
Last year if you brought up the argument on who was the X factor for the Florida Panthers, the list of possible candidates could be quite long. It could be Brian Campbell, the quarterback of the team, or Jose Theodore, without his great play in the net the Panthers might not have been where they ended up, or you could even say Fleischmann who provided the team with an offensive spark that helped ignite their run for the cup. This year it will be no different, a long list of possible candidates that can play the role of the X factor. The Florida Panthers don’t exactly have a big time name in their lineups, so any player can step in and take over the team at any time. For me, it was hard to pick one person to be the X factor, but when it came down to it, I realized that the Panthers have a special player. He isn’t on the first line for offense or defense and he isn’t a goalie. Instead of going with a more popular choice of Stephen Weiss or Kris Versteeg, my choice is, Sean Bergenheim.
You could try to convince me otherwise that Bergenheim is just a 20 point player, but I believe differently. If you take a look back to his career, he has been a consistent 20 point player. Despite being an above average role player for a couple of years, he was still overlooked. It wasn’t until two years ago when he went for eleven points in the postseason with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Even after coming off of a strong performance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Panthers were being highly criticized for signing Bergenheim to a four year contract. Before the season began, other writers scattered throughout the nation were saying that what he accomplished in the playoffs was just a fluke and that the Panthers were being tricked into believing he could be worth the money he was giving. Despite all the negative attention being brought to Sean, he still went out last season and had arguably his best season as a pro. Yes, he did miss 20 games due to injury, but if you look at his numbers from his previous seasons and compared them to last years, last years seemed to be his best year in the NHL.
In his five years in the NHL, Bergenheim’s career best for total points after a season is 29. In that year he also played 80 games. If you look at last year’s point total for Sean it was 23, which he achieved in on 62 games. If he was able to stay healthy last year, he could have easily surpassed his career high of 29 points. After doing some research on Bergenheim’s season, I also came across that he shot the puck a career high 185 times. With his added offensive aggressiveness he helped lead the Panthers offense. He also showed up again in the playoffs, scoring six points in the seven games that he played in.
But that was then. Coming into this season Bergenheim has to work on trying to stay healthy. If he could stay healthy, his point total could easily be somewhere up in the 50’s and the Panthers offense would run so much more fluently. Coming into this season it is imperative that he stays healthy. Bergenheim possess a great sense of awareness while out on the ice. Although he might not be the best player on this team, he is easily one of the most important players. You guys might not agree with me, but Bergenheim has the opportunity to do something real special here in South Florida. The Panthers NEED his offensive ability night in and night out. The only question remaining with Berg is his health. Other than that, look for him to do big things next season with the Panthers!
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