Sharks’ McLellan: ‘We have to get better in a lot of areas’

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Just five days after losing 7-2 on home ice to the Blues, the San Jose Sharks were spanked by the same score Thursday night in St. Louis.

Alex Steen, Jay Bouwmeester and Paul Stastny gave the Blues a 3-1 lead after one period.

Jori Lehtera restored the two-goal lead after Melker Karlsson had pulled the Sharks to within one and T.J. Oshie made it 5-2 after 40 minutes.

Patrik Berglund and David Backes scored third period goals while Brian Elliott made 24 saves for the win.

“For us, the two games against St. Louis give us an indication of where we’re at as a club, and where we need to go,” Sharks’ coach Todd McLellan said post-game. “There’s some high-end players on our team that really have to pick it up, and there’s also some role players that have to pick it up.

“We all have to grow as a group, and we have to get better in a lot of areas if we expect to compete against teams like St. Louis. Right now, it would be hard to find a team better than that.”

Logan Couture had the Sharks other goal while Antti Niemi made 16 saves on 21 shots before being replaced by Alex Stalock.

“You can sit here and make every single excuse in the book, but to lose 7-2 is unacceptable with this team that we have,” Couture said. “We just got beat, plain and simple, again, by that team.

“We’re better than what we’ve shown. To go out and play that team two games and get spanked like that … we haven’t been good in front of our goalies against these guys.”

After eight-game absence, Bouwmeester back for Blues

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On Thursday, a new streak begins for Jay Bouwmeester.

Bouwmeester, who’s missed the last eight games with a groin ailment, will play for the first time since Nov. 22 when the Blues take on the Isles tonight in St. Louis.

Getting back is a big deal for the 31-year-old rearguard, who had his iron man streak snapped with his groin injury. Prior to getting hurt, Bouwmeester had played in 737 consecutive contests — at the time, it was the longest active streak among major professional sports, and the fifth-longest in NHL history.

In other Blues news, Thomas Steen will return to the lineup tonight after missing the last two games with an injury. Captain David Backes will play with a full shield after taking a puck to the face on Monday, and Carl Gunnarsson has been placed on IR with a concussion, stemming from the hit he took from New York’s Anders Lee.

Bouwmeester’s out, ending the longest active ‘Ironman’ streak in sports

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Calling him “The Cal Ripken Jr. of Hockey” is a stretch, but Jay Bouwmeester’s run of 737 consecutive games played remains impressive. It also might end on Sunday.

The speedy blueliner suffered a lower-body injury on Saturday, and signs point to him missing the St. Louis Blues’ game against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday. If that happens, it will end the longest active “Ironman” streak in professional sports, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The 31-year-old told the Post-Dispatch that he doesn’t want to play merely to keep the streak alive.

“I think if you’re ever at a point where you can’t play and you’re going to be a detriment out there, then you’re not going to play,” Bouwmeester said to the Post-Dispatch on Friday, the day before the injury.

“I’ve never really kept track what that streak is at … the number or anything like that. You don’t think about it. You just approach it like you want to play. Most guys, if they’re able to play, they’re going to play. But you’re not going to do anything that’s going to take away from the whole team thing.”

Perhaps Bouwmeester would actually be better off taking a breather?

The $5.4 million defenseman only has two points in 20 games so far in 2014-15, and his possession stats have sagged noticeably as well. His struggles haven’t derailed the Blues by any means, but considering the team’s ambitions to make a deep playoff run, wouldn’t it be best for Bouwmeester to get his game back together sooner rather than later?

The Post-Dispatch points out that Anaheim Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano has the second-longest games played streak in the NHL, as he hasn’t missed a contest in 561 games.

Blues’ Bouwmeester suffers ‘lower-body ailment’ in win over Senators

The St. Louis Blues ended a brief two-game losing skid with a win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, but the two points may come with a price.

Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester didn’t play a shift for the final six minutes of the third period, but the Blues managed to hang on for a 3-2 victory. Alexander Steen scored the winner, and Vladimir Tarasenko scored his 12th of the season for St. Louis.

“I think he stepped on a crack on the ice. So he’s got a lower-body ailment. We’ll see how he is in the morning,” said Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock, as per Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Hitchcock: Cole has opportunity to be top-six defenseman

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Ian Cole was taken in the first round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, but his climb up the ranks has been gradual.

He spent three years in college and then another three seasons bouncing between the AHL and NHL before he stuck with the Blues in 2013-14. However, he still only ended up playing in 46 games and averaged just 15:05 minutes per contest when he did dress. That could change next season though.

“This is a real opportunity for Ian,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He’s paid his dues. He spent time in the minors. He’s spent time as the seventh defenseman. He’s matured as a person and as a player. It’s his time.

“There’s an open spot, a regular shift. There’s everything there waiting for him, just step up and grab it.”

Hitchcock will be looking for Cole to play a physical game and join the rush. He also expects him to find a balance between playing aggressively and not making “irrational decisions” defensively. That being said, the Blues bench boss is willing to live with some defensive mistakes as a trade off for his work with the puck.

At the same time, Cole’s been focused on improving his positioning as he gets ready to compete for a top-six spot during training camp. Even if the opportunity is there, it’s not a given that Cole will stay out of the press box in 2014-15. Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Barret Jackman are all expected to play regularly when healthy, so Cole will be fighting for one of two spots with Jordan Leopold, Carl Gunnarsson, and Chris Butler.