Bouwmeester: Blues ‘comparable’ to last year’s Kings


For all the positives Jay Bouwmeester brings, there’s one negative he’s always associated with:

Never making the playoffs.

Now, the 29-year0ld rearguard is hoping to help his new team — the St. Louis Blues — into the postseason. The Blues currently hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the West, which is good enough for JayBo.

He just wants to get in.

“I really think they have the team of anyone that can put a string together, get in the playoffs and with that experience from last year, do that much better,” Bouwmeester told Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“Nowadays you’ve just got to get in. I viewed St. Louis as comparable to LA.”

Bouwmeester, of course, is referencing the 2012 Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings, who slogged through an uneven regular season and got in as the No. 8 seed in the West.

Only one other playoff team (Florida) had fewer wins, but that didn’t stop the Kings from getting white-hot in the postseason, racking up a 16-4 record en route to the first Cup in franchise history.

The Blues, meanwhile, finished second in the West with 49 wins, but were swept by LA in the second round.

While the team is hoping for a longer run this time, Bouwmeester would probably be thrilled to get that far.

This season, Bouwmeester played his 735th regular season game without a playoff appearance, breaking the career mark set by ex-NHLer Guy Charron — 734 games, from 1969-81 — without getting to the postseason.

While that dubious record likely hangs on him, Bouwmeester feels he’s joined something special in St. Louis.

“They’re a tough team to play against,” he said. “They’re a big team that can skate, just a team that is solid all the way through lineup.”

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
AP Photo

Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
AP Photo
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There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.