Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/22/13
Kris Versteeg hasn't paid close attention to the team he helped win a Stanley Cup since leaving Chicago four seasons ago. But the Panthers forward has a good idea of what to expect when the Blackhawks visit the BB&T Center Tuesday night. "You kind of know every night what kind of game you're going to get from them. They've played pretty much the same way the last 4 1/2 years" said Versteeg now three teams removed from that 2009-10 championship. The Blackhawks won the Cup again this past season so they are the gold standard the Panthers are striving for under the same architect General Manager Dale Tallon who put many of the championship pieces in place in Chicago. Asked what the Panthers need to get there Versteeg smiled and recited the various methods of acquiring premium players. But aside from a disparity in seasoned talent the Blackhawks have a vital cohesiveness that has eluded the Panthers during a sputtering 3-6 start. "They have a consistent level of play because there are a lot of guys that have been there for a long time. These guys have played as linemates and teammates consistently every night for the last five six seven years. So they know where they are on the ice they understand their roles" Versteeg said. Coach Kevin Dineen is still trying to determine which players he can trust with games on the line. A spirited defensive effort enabled the Panthers to snap a three-game skid in Saturday's shootout win over Minnesota. But that type of performance has been fleeting and scoring remains problematic. Meanwhile the 5-1-2 Blackhawks are coming off what coach Joel Quenneville said was their most complete outing in Saturday's 3-1 win over Toronto. "There's a level of confidence that has come with success there" Dineen said. "They play like a team and they play hard every night. There's been no [championship] hangover. You watch their games and the same things that I saw that made them successful in June are also working for them right now." Bergy back Rehabbing forward Sean Bergenheim returned to practice Monday after several sessions with his physical therapist in Toronto. He participated in five-on-five. But Bergenheim has not been cleared to play and will not be activated Tuesday Dineen said. Bergenheim who has not suited up for the Panthers since the playoffs in 2012 had surgeries on his groin/hip and abdomen in March which he said "make me feel so much better that I [feel I] can be a far better player than I was." As to when he may be ready to play he said "I think it's sooner rather than later. I'm definitely much closer than I was before Toronto."
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