What: St. Louis Blues vs. Florida Panthers
Where: BB&T Center
When: 6:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Midwest
Radio: KMOX 1120
As the St. Louis Blues head into the BB&T Center tonight to square off against the Florida Panthers, Jay Bouwmeester returns to the ice where he began his NHL career.
Taken 3rd overall by the Panthers in the 1st round of the 2002 NHL Draft, Jay set a record for rookies by playing in all 82 games for Florida during the 2002-03 season, earning a spot on the 2003 NHL All-Rookie team. Since then, he has made an All-Star appearance in 2007, and surpassed Andrew Brunette as the league leader in consecutive games played during the 2008-09 campaign, a record he still holds today with 645 games and counting.
Bouwmeester began playing organized hockey in his birthplace of Edmonton, Alberta, at the age of 15, and was just 19 year old when drafted by the Panthers. He would go on to anchor the blueline for the Calgary Flames from 2009 until he was traded to the Blues during the 2012-13 lockout shortened season. Jay saw his first playoff action of his career with St. Louis last season, and as part of a top defensive pairing with Alex Pietrangelo, looks to find himself playing hockey well into the Spring for years to come. He recently signed a $33 million deal to stay with the Blues for the next 5 years.
Jay has excelled in international play as well, playing in the World Juniors for Team Canada three times. He was the youngest player ever to play for team Canada, 16, in 2000. He went on to win 2 gold medals in 3 appearances with Canada’s World Championship team, even scoring the championship winning goal in 2004. He played for Team Canada in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, and stands an excellent chance to represent his country again this year in Sochi, Russia.
Known as one of the best skaters in the NHL, Jay shows no signs of slowing down at age 30. As the Blues continue to have success, it will be in no small part due to his stalwart defensive play. He’s currently tied for 3rd among defensemen with 8 assists, and, because of his speed, is always a threat to jump up into the play in the offensive zone.
Bouwmeester was +1 in the teams’ earlier meeting with 3 shots on goal. We’ll see tonight if he can improve on that line and help the Blues beat Florida for a second straight time. St. Louis demolished the Panthers 7-0 on October 5th. Even though he’s “the enemy” now, I won’t be surprised at all to hear some of the Florida fans cheering for number 19.
GO BLUES! LONG LIVE THE NOTE!