Bergenheim key to Tampa's battle

Bergenheim key to Tampa's battle
May 15, 2011, 7:32 am
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By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Tampa Bay's offensive arsenal is packed with high-caliber NHL names: Stamkos, St. Louis, LeCavalier, Bergenheim.

Bergenheim?

Yes. What the winger lacks in household starpower he is making up for with playoff firepower. Sean Bergenheim scored his eighth goal of the postseason in the first period of Tampa's 5-2 win over Boston. The total is more than half his regular-season output (14 G, 80 GM) and currently leads the league.

He's modest.

"Well, you know, it's a good feeling, but to be honest the best feeling is that we're winning," Bergenheim said. "I'm obviously happy that I've been helping the team, but I think it's more of a line effort and our line that's been clicking."

Despite being plucked from the locker room to give the ever-exclusive podium interview, Bergenheim deflected praise toward his teammates. His 'For the Greater Good' attitude is not unusual. It's a good manners practice often exercised by athletes across all sports.

Or it's the honest-to-goodness truth.

Sean Bergenheim isn't threatening to eclipse the talent and skill of Steven Stamkos -- not even close -- but his amped-up efforts do make you consider the Lightning a little differently. Tampa is looking for contributions all over the ice. And finding them.

Martin St. Louis spoke about the role players.

"In the playoffs, you've got to raise your role even more," said St. Louis. "I think Bergenheim's taken a step in his game and that whole line's playing tremendous for us. They're playing some dominant minutes. They're tough to play against and that's what we want."

The 35-year old delivers his quotes tersely.

He's not quite surprised and delighted by the increased production of the bench. To St. Louis, these players are simply matching supply to demand. The playoffs are a time of war -- "good" isn't good enough -- and you can't hand out medals whenever a soldier goes beyond the call of duty. Survival is trickier, the stakes are higher and so is the bar.

Bergenheim has another great night? Slap him on the back and move on.

St. Louis has earned the right to his matter-of-factness. He is a Stanley Cup winner, he is the Lightning's all-time scoring leader, a power play specialist and the jackhammering heart of the team.

And he's exactly right about Bergenheim and the rest.

"Those guys are bringing it, everybody's bringing it," said St. Louis. "We need everybody this time of year. We don't have any passengers and that's why we have had success."

It's so simple: Which side do you want to be on? The side with five goals or the side with two? Do you want to win or do you want to lose? An obvious answer. That's when you look down the second third, and fourth lines and say, Don't tell me; show me.

"Those guys," said winger Teddy Purcell, "at the end of the day are going to make the difference."

On a night when zero goals are scored by St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier (Tampa's No. 3 in franchise scoring history) or Stamkos (his 45 regular season goals were 2nd in the NHL), they have to. They've got to beat David Krejci on face-offs, draw penalties, translate Tomas Kaberle turnovers into points, block shots like Eric Brewer and stay on the net like Bergenheim.

"So far in the playoffs he's been a key," Purcell said. "He's one of the reasons why we're having success."

The Bergenheim sparks of success. Let these bench fires keep blazing? Tampa might burn a fire too big for Boston to put out.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti