The St. Louis Blues seem doomed to always have a player or two that play hard, but the fans can just never get behind. The current goat, among others, is Jay Bouwmeester.
When the St. Louis Blues traded for Jay Bouwmeester, they figured they were going to get a solid top-two defender. They figured they had another offensive piece that was going to transition them into the new way the game was played.
They did get a top-two defender. The rest is up for debate.
Bouwmeester was a great scorer earlier in his career. As fans, we tend to only look at the stats that favor whatever opinion we want to form or already have.
So, when the Blues got Bouwmeester, we all jumped over the Calgary stuff and went to his Florida days. At least I did.
Back with the Panthers, he was scoring 15 goals and 40-plus points. Those are some impressive numbers for a guy with a somewhat weak shot, but plenty of skill.
Blues fans wanted that player. The team could have really used that kind of player. We all were hoping for those kinds of numbers out of the trio of Bouwmeester, Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk.
Bouwmeester almost did himself no favors with his first full campaign in St. Louis. The goals were not quite there, but he had 33 assists and 37 points.
Those kinds of numbers would have been perfect, especially for the contract Bouwmeester has. 30 points is great for a defender and he was a whopping plus-26 that season too. Instead, things went south from a production standpoint.
Bouwmeester has never again cracked the 20 point barrier. He has never scored more than four goals with the Blues either.
2016-17 was a particularly bad year for him point wise. One goal to his name and 15 points was not going to silence any critics.
The lanky defensemen has plenty of those. His detractors say he’s not physical enough, is too slow now, gets crossed up easily and screens his own goaltender too much.
A lot of that is true. However, if you watch any defender long enough, you’ll see the same things.
For example, we see all the negative things the Blues do because we watch every game and every play. Outsiders don’t, so they see things differently. That’s why the national media were perplexed that the Blues could trade a “great defender” like Shattenkirk.
That is not to purely defend Bouwmeester. He has regressed during his time here. It is just not to the point so many think.
Bouwmeester’s Corsi and Fenwick ratings were the worst of his Blues career this season. That means the Blues were possessing the puck less than their opponent when he was on the ice. Still, his ratings in those categories are still higher on average than any of his time with other teams.
The playoffs have been a different animal. Bouwmeester has yet to score a playoff goal with the Blues in five seasons and only has six total points (four came in one playoff run).
His Corsi for rating was a team low 36% in 2017. He was also a minus-5. Plus/minus is an iffy stat to go by in and of itself, but it does not look good when your top defenders are a minus.
Still, Bouwmeester does so many little things that go unappreciated. Despite the Blues lack of success against Nashville, he and Pietrangelo kept the Predators top line quiet.
The same has been true for the Blues the last few seasons. The Chicago Blackhawks top line was kept pretty silet last season and Bouwmeester was a part of that.
His inclusion on Team Canada cannot be overlooked either. Bouwmeester was quiet offensively, but logged important minutes and shown trust by the coaches by playing him in key situations.
Those are the parts Blues fans want to overlook. When you are played in high pressure situations all the time, eventually something bad will happen. It just happens that memories tend to be longer on the negative spots than the positive ones.
Bouwmeester has plenty of room to improve, but he may just be what he is at this point. There is little chance he returns to an offensive dynamo as he is old enough now that the legs can only focus on defending or going forward.
My grade, will undoubtedly be way too high for some people’s liking. I still contend that we see enough good out of him to justify his spot on the team.
We all wish for more offense, but his defending is a lot better than anyone wants to admit. Corsi ratings are all in fashion, but if the team cannot possess the puck, it should not fall on one man alone.