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Wild's Bergeron hopes to find place

By his own admission, Marc-Andre Bergeron already was tight in his first game wearing the Minnesota Wild scarlet and green Saturday night. Then a bad power-play shift threatened to completely derail his night.

Bergeron

By his own admission, Marc-Andre Bergeron already was tight in his first game wearing the Minnesota Wild scarlet and green Saturday night. Then a bad power-play shift threatened to completely derail his night.

"It's a battle to get back into the game after a shift like that," he said.

The Wild trailed Boston 1-0 when Bergeron came out for a power play and immediately passed the puck to an opponent, leading to a series of failed attempts to get the puck out of Minnesota's end. When his team finally got set up, Bergeron whiffed on a one-timer to end any threat.

"When you play in the NHL and you have a shift like that on the power play, it's obvious," the defenseman said Sunday. "It just stinks."

Bergeron's Minnesota debut, however, had a happy ending. Early in the second period, his dead-eye slap shot from just below the blue line found Manny Fernandez's five-hole and put the Wild up 2-1, a lead they would not relinquish in a 4-3 victory.

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"I kind of finished even," he said. "I went down, then got even and finished even. Not a great game, but it's the first one, so ..."

Just as that goal restarted his night, Bergeron is hoping his career reignites in Minnesota, which acquired Bergeron from Anaheim for a third-round pick in this summer's entry draft. It was the Wild's first move during a busy offseason.

"I was very happy," he said of the trade. When coach Jacques Lemaire and assistant Mario Tremblay called almost immediately afterward, he felt even better.

"They told me they were excited, and since I've been here I feel they really want me to help the team, and I really feel they have confidence in me," he said. "That's something every player needs. I'm really trying to keep this."

That's the kind of positive feedback Bergeron wasn't getting in Long Island, N.Y., last season, where the Islanders were sputtering, and he wasn't performing. In 46 games, he had nine goals and nine assists with a plus-minus rating of minus-14.

"You've seen it from other players -- when a year's not working, it's just not working," he said. "The more you try, the worse it gets. ... I was one of the guys who was supposed to produce, and we were ranked 30th on the power play, and it was like, 'Holy cow, what are we doing?'

"So you get frustrated, obviously. You want to play well."

At the deadline, the Islanders shipped Bergeron to Anaheim, which picked him up for veteran insurance and never really needed him. He played only nine games.

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No wonder he's glad to be here. Since helping Edmonton make the Stanley Cup finals in 2005-06, his best NHL season with 15 goals, 30 assists and a plus-3 rating, he has been trying to find a happy place, never starting and ending a season with the same team.

But he was just what Minnesota was looking for, a skilled defenseman who can skate the puck out of trouble and hit the tape with his passes. His slap shot is formidable, and Lemaire plans to make him a point staple on the power play.

He also has no issue with pitching in offensively when the opportunity is there. In the Wild's exhibitions and practices, Bergeron didn't hesitate to make a play he thought was there.

"Players are so quick, and the game is so fast that if you start hesitating, you start making mistakes," he said. "It happens every year when you're not as confident, and you notice right away. Then you start losing the puck, and those little things are changing in your game, and it's probably because you're hesitating.

"So right now it's early, but I feel good and I want to help the team. That's why I'm playing the way I'm playing right now."

Related Topics: HOCKEYMINNESOTA WILD
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