Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/17/13
Somewhat lost in the fireworks of the Blues’ 7-3 win Thursday was a goal by Jay Bouwmeester. It was Bouwmeester’s first of the season, which might suggest to some that he has been rather quiet in the Blues’ 12-2-3 start. And literally speaking, they would be right. Bouwmeester is rather quiet, by nature. Moreover, when he does speak, he does it in measured increments and subdued tones. If you were trying to get Jerry Seinfeld to wear some kind of frilly-looking pirate shirt, Bouwmeester would be your guy. He talks at low volumes. But he plays hockey loud and clear. “He’s exactly as advertised, “ Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “He’s a minutes-eater. He plays big minutes against top-end opponents. He covers up mistakes, he settles the game down for us.” The quiet Bouwmeester has had big offensive seasons in his career. Over a three-season stretch with the Florida Panthers (2006-2009), the 6-foot-4, 215-pound defenseman had 42 goals and 121 points, an average of 14 goals and slightly more than 40 points. In fairness, he’s not utilized in the same manner now. In Florida, Bouwmeester was a primary piece of a 1-3-1 power play formation, where he played in the slot, not on the point. With the Blues, he’s not even on the top power-play units. Bouwmeester does not have to score goals to be a difference-maker. He is not paid a roster-high $6.68 million for on his ability to put the puck in the net. It’s his ability to manage the puck, to smother the opposing team’s top threats, to facilitate offense with a pressure-popping pass, to support and recover with agile skating that makes Bouwmeester special. “Coming here, I know we have a couple of pretty skilled guys in Shatty and Petro, and you might not get as much power-play time and that sort of thing, and that’s the way it goes,” Bouwmeester, 30, said. “I’m at the point of my career where there’s more important things. “I just want to be in a place where you have an opportunity to win. Obviously, I thought that coming here, and I was excited. And since then, I believe it even more, being around the group. “I’ve always wanted to be just a solid, complete defenseman. Maybe you don’t score 50, 60 points every year, but you have the responsibility of playing against some top players and that’s your job, to sort of contain those guys. You’re going to have some nights that don’t go so well, but you want the good to outweigh the bad.” Let’s go to the scales: Since Bouwmeester arrived, the Blues are 23-5-3 in regular-season play. Yep, good definitely is outweighing bad. Bouwmeester is like a top of the rotation pitcher in baseball, the one you count on for more than 200 innings, the one you know gives your team a chance to win every time out. Alex Pietrangelo, Bouwmeester’s defensive playing partner, acknowledged the understated Bouwmeester is not the most gregarious personality. He is more substantial than that — the strong, silent type. “He’s a little on the quiet side, right?” Pietrangelo said, with a smile. “I think at first, you know, it’s a process. But I mean on the ice, the communication is there and it’s just gotten better. I think with training camp and everything, it gives you a chance to establish that chemistry, so it makes a difference.” Pietrangelo is a poster boy for the Bouwmeester effect. The Blues’ No. 27 would be the first to tell you last season’s lockout-stunted season was not his finest. He seemed out of synch at times. Authority was missing from his game, replaced at times by uncertainty.
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