Last night’s 4-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs was a big deal. Not just because the Blues won for only the second time this year, but for two games in a row they allowed fewer than 25 shots. The Blues have played seven games, and have managed to allow 25 shots or fewer three times, losing two of those three games.
However, the Blues pulled off last night’s win without one of their key players. Jay Bouwmeester, who has a NHL career of 1,112 games played over the course of 14 seasons, spent last night in the press box next to rookie Robert Thomas. When asked about it, Bouwmeester told the Post-Dispatch’s Jim Thomas:
“I’m not gonna talk a lot about it because nobody likes being in that position,” Bouwmeester said. “But it’s the nature of the business. Every game there’s guys that are gonna get scratched. You deal with it, that’s all you can do.”
Fair. But the years are starting to weigh on the 35 year-old Bouwmeester. He’s been a dedicated workhorse his entire career, but injuries abbreviated his season down to 35 games last year thanks to hip and ankle injuries.
To be blunt, yesterday’s win without Bouwmeester was probably a product of Mike Yeo’s trying to get the defense to work over the course of the start of the season. Yeo needed to find something to work, so he benched Bouwmeester and rewarded young players who have been contributing.
It worked well. If it works again, Bouwmeester and Blues fans may find themselves wondering if this is the defenseman’s last season with the Blues. He’s on his final year of a contract that locks him in at $5.4 million a season and a no trade clause. The only question hanging over Bouwmeester’s head at this point is probably if he should retire or if he should take a one-year deal elsewhere after this season ends.