SUNRISE, Fla. - When it comes to games played, Blues defenseman Barret Jackman’s name is in some pretty illustrious company.
Bob Plager, Barclay Plager, Garry Unger, Brett Hull. All are Blues legends that Jackman has passed on the club’s all-time games played list.
Beginning at 4 p.m. this afternoon, Jackman will skate in his 779th career game with the Blues and will tie another legend: Brian Sutter.
“It’s pretty special,” Jackman said. “Obviously, Sutter was an icon for the Blues for many years, and still is in the hockey world. It’s amazing. In ’99 when I was drafted, never in my wildest dreams did I think this would be something I could accomplish. Being with the Blues all this time has been pretty amazing.”
Over the course of his career, Jackman has amassed 1,200 blocked shots and 911 hits - stats that only six other NHL players have reached since those stats began being tracked in the 2005-06 season. In addition, he has been a plus-player in all but three seasons.
Overall, Jackman has 27 goals, 151 assists (178 points) and a +55 rating.
“Guys don’t stay in one organization for that long without being a good player and an even better person,” said defenseman Chris Butler. “It’s a testament to him and the work that he’s put in - the countless hours of practices and training that he does to stay in shape to play the way he does, as hard as he does, for that long.
“You have to tip your cap to him.”
When the Blues host the Dallas Stars on Tuesday at Scottrade Center, Jackman will take sole possession of second place, trailing only Hall of Famer Bernie Federko, who played 927 games with the Blues.
“It’s nice to see a guy that’s a good player get to stay on the same team for a long period of time,” Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. “It’s not very common anymore, you don’t see it happening much. To see Jax here for that extended period of time, I think it helps you continuity-wise with your program. He can help a lot of the younger players out, he’s established in the community…there’s a real identity with him in the St. Louis community.”
“It’s tough in sports to stick in one city for this long,” Jackman added. “This is special to me and it’s special to my family.”
PREPARING FOR FLORIDA
The last time the Blues and Panthers met, Martin Brodeur stopped 32 of 34 shots in a 4-2 win on Dec. 8.
Now Brodeur works in the front office, and the Panthers will get their first look this season at Brian Elliott, who will be looking to improve on his League-best road goals-against average (1.91) and save-percentage (.929).
The Blues have won five straight against the Panthers since the 2009-10 season and are 7-3-1 with two ties in 13 games at BB&T Center. But the Blues know another win against the Panthers won't come easy.
“We’re playing another really quality opponent,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “They’ve had a lot of success this year, similar to the way Tampa plays in terms of style, so we should be prepared for them.”
The Panthers find themselves just four points out of the Eastern Conference Wild Card race with a 24-19-11 record.
“They play a high-energy game,” Hitchcock said. “There seems to be a different style getting played out here. A lot more pinching by defenseman, a lot more swarming defensively, a lot more pressure on the puck with numbers.”
Alexander Steen leads the League with 25 points since the calendar turned to 2015. Linemates David Backes and T.J. Oshie are tied for third with 22.
The Blues have won six of their last seven road games, including Thursday’s 6-3 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
With Thursday’s win, Ken Hitchcock earned his 693rd win behind the bench, passing Dick Irvin for fourth on the NHL’s all-time list.