Unlikely Florida Panthers Playoff Heroes

florida panthers playoff heroes
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Post-season heroes come in all forms, from the star player to the unknown fourth-liner. We all know the exploits of the great playoff performers. However, we hardly hear about the unlikely playoff heroes. These unlikely post-season stars can contribute in many ways. Contributions could be for an entire playoff run, a series, a game or even a goal. These unlikely heroes have made big plays that no one expects. This series looks at all of these unknown stars. These are the unlikely Florida Panthers playoff heroes.

Florida Panthers Playoff Heroes

Bill Lindsay

Before The Moment

Going into the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 1996 Stanley Cup Playoffs, no one expected the Florida Panthers to make it as far as they did. As one of the most stunning Stanley Cup Finals teams ever, Bill Lindsay and the Panthers were ready to shock the NHL world. Before the magical playoff run, Lindsay found himself having a decent season but nothing special. In 73 games played, Lindsay recorded 12 goals and 22 assists for 34 points. He finished the regular season tied for tenth in points on the Cats. It was a record year for him when it came to points and goals scored. There is one goal specifically that lives as one of the top moments in all Florida Panthers’ history.

The Moment

Heading into Game 5, the Panthers had a three-games-to-one lead over the Boston Bruins. Late in the third period, Lindsay found himself collecting the puck at the red line with only one man to beat. As he skated past Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque, Lindsay pushed the puck towards the boards. At the same time, he used his body as a shield as he cut across the top of the crease. While he does this, Lindsay is tripped up and barely sneaks the puck between Bill Ranford‘s legs to score the eventual game-winner.

The Aftermath

Thanks to Lindsay’s heroic efforts, the Panthers would clinch their first playoff series win in franchise history, springboarding the Panthers to the Stanley Cup Finals. Taking the hockey world by surprise, the Panthers would upset the ‘Legion Of Doom’ Philadelphia Flyers. They later down the Pittsburgh Penguins, who had three of the top four scorers in the league. This went down as one of the biggest goals in the Panthers’ history. Since then, the Florida Panthers playoffs aspirations in the more recent past have been just that, hopes and dreams. No Panther team has been able to recreate the magic from 1996 yet.

Dave Lowry

Before The Moment

Going into the 1995-96 season, the Panthers had just entered their third season in franchise history. Yet that meant close to nothing to the team. They had a different idea of how their season would go. The season before, the Panthers were terrible. With a losing record of 20-22-6, the ‘Cats’ only missed the playoffs by one point. It gave the Panthers something to fight for over the off-season. When the Panthers entered the playoffs, most looked to the stars like John Vanbiesbrouck and Scott Mellanby to lead the way. Yet, it was the most unlikely of heroes, Dave Lowry, and his offensive prowess that led the Panthers to the 1996 Stanley Cup Final.

The Moment

Lowry recorded 10 goals during the regular season in 63 games played. On top of that, he also had 36 minutes worth of penalties. As he was 14th on the team in points by the time the season came to an end, no one was expecting Lowry to do much more than that in the playoffs. Yet, if it weren’t for Lowry’s sudden scoring touch, the Panthers would not have made it to the Final that season. In 22 playoff games, the 30-year old Dave Lowry led the team in points with 17 total. With 10 goals and seven assists, Lowry took some pressure off the Panthers’ top guys. Allowing them to play with more ease, he led the team to an Eastern Conference championship.

The Aftermath

Now, this next part is not as exciting. Unfortunately, the Panthers and Lowry were unable to take it all the way. After an improbable playoff run, the Panthers came up just short of Lord Stanley’s Cup after being swept by the Colorado Avalanche. Despite the bleak ending, Lowry’s run still goes down as one of the most unexpected playoff runs in hockey history.

Sean Bergenheim

Before the Moment

After a very unexpected regular season in 2011-12, Sean Bergenheim and the Panthers won the Southeast Division with 94 points, despite having the most overtime losses in the league. The Panthers were still able to make their way into the playoffs, facing off against the eventual Eastern Conference Champions, the New Jersey Devils. Throughout the regular season, Bergenheim found himself in the middle of the pack on the Panthers roster. In 62 games, the Finnish left-winger recorded just 23 points. While Sean added 48 minutes in penalties, he did not look like a threat heading into the playoffs’ first round. Yet, no one told him that.

The Moment

In the heartbreaking seven-game series loss, Bergenheim was one of the key players in keeping the Florida Panthers’ playoff dreams alive. During the series, Sean would lead the team in points and shots. With six total points, Bergenheim scored three goals and added three helpers as well. Suppose it were not for the defensive mistakes during the second overtime of that game, Bergenheim was poised to keep the Florida Panthers’ playoff run alive.

After the Moment

A Game 7, double-overtime loss stings deep within moments of making it to the second round of the playoffs. The Devils were able to upend the Panthers after a defensive break-down that left Adam Henrique alone in the slot to win the game. When the following season rolled around, the Panthers were unable to live up to last season’s success. Regardless of the shortened season, the Panthers finished fifth in the division with a 15-27-6 record. Coming up short of the playoffs, it was as if the Panthers just casually regressed to the mean. As for Bergenheim, he would suffer a hip injury during the lockout that would cause the Panthers to be hamstrung that year.

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