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Bouwmeester set for 1,000th game

D-man becomes 17th active player to reach milestone

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

NEW YORK - Jay Bouwmeester may be known for his quiet demeanor, but that's OK.

He lets his actions on the ice do the talking.

The 33-year-old Blues defenseman, who began as an offensive blueliner but has adapted to become one of the best shutdown players in the League, will suit up for his 1,000th NHL game tonight in New York when the Blues meet the Rangers at 6 p.m. CT at Madison Square Garden (FSMW, FSGO, KMOX).

"It's neat, because it brings out a lot of memories and things you don't sit there and think about," Bouwmeester said about reaching the milestone. "The people that helped you along the way, your family and now my wife and kids, they're a big part of it now. It's the evolution of you growing up. I started when I was 19 and you learn a lot over that time."

Bouwmeester was drafted by the Florida Panthers with the third overall pick in 2002 and made his NHL debut with Florida on Oct. 10, 2002. He played 471 games with the Panthers before moving on to Calgary, where he played 279 games before being traded to the St. Louis Blues in April 2013. Since arriving in St. Louis, he has played in 249 games.

Bouwmeester will become the 307th NHL player overall and just the 17th active player to reach the 1,000 games plateau.

Video: Bouwmeester on reaching 1,000 games

"That's 1,000 games of real good hockey, night in and night out," said captain Alex Pietrangelo. "He's going to give you exactly what you want and he's done that his whole career. He deserves everything he's getting right now. He plays big minutes and plays extremely well. I've been lucky to have him by my side for most of his time here, and I'm real excited to be able to share it with him."

Bouwmeester is the youngest active player in the League to reach the milestone, due in large part to his 749-game (including playoffs) iron man streak from March 2004 until Nov. 2014. It was the fifth-longest consecutive games streak in NHL history.

"It's amazing. How fast he's done it is something you really have to tip your cap to," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "I think every guy in this locker room knows how hard it is to do, and it's very special to be on a team with a guy who's done it… He's a tremendous hockey player. He may not have a flash or get a lot of credit, but he's someone that does so many things well."

"He's had an interesting career because he came in as an offensive defenseman out of Medicine Hat and he continued that trend in Florida," Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. "But he's changed to where he's one of the premiere shutdown guys in the world. He's adapted, and he's adapted really, really well."

Bouwmeester has posted 81 goals and 296 assists (377 points) in his 999 career regular season games. This season, he has played in nine games, posting one assist and a plus-1 rating.

"It seems like a long time ago, but it goes by fast," Bouwmeester added. "I've been lucky without having any real big injuries where you're missing big periods of time. That's No. 1. Over time, you learn how to take care of yourself and prepare for seasons and do the stuff you need to. Now with the way the game is, there's a lot more emphasis on skating, and I've been lucky I've always been a pretty good skater.

"It's allowed me to keep up."

Video: Teammates on Bouwmeester's milestone

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