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Bouwmeester took break, but ready to go with Blues

by Louie Korac

CHICAGO -- For someone who is used to being on the ice, St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester actually didn't mind taking a short hiatus following his trade from the Calgary Flames on Monday.

"On one side you want to just kind of get there and meet the guys, get acclimated a little bit," Bouwmeester said after practicing with his new team Thursday morning. "For me, it was kind of good because I've got a young family. I've got a baby at home (a 3-month-old daughter), so it's good to kind of spend some time with her. They'll come and visit probably, but I probably won't see them too much."

Bouwmeester, who will make his Blues debut Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks, will keep his ironman streak alive, which sits at 621 consecutive games played. He will be partnered alongside Alex Pietrangelo.

"No. 1, it was good just to get back on the ice," Bouwmeester, who has six goals and 15 points in 33 games this season, said. "... Everyone here has been real welcoming. It seems like a really good group. I'm pretty excited. ... We're playing a big rival [Thursday]. To jump right into it, should be fun."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who now has a defenseman who averaged 25:09 per game in ice time this season at his disposal, said he won't ask the 29-year-old to change too much.

"He knows how to play," Hitchcock said of Bouwmeester. "I think you give him a little bit of instruction on special teams and then let the 5-on-5 [game] play. He's in a position where we're not going to coach out of what he does well. I think the difference between the way we kill penalties and the way Calgary kills penalties, we're just going to have to work through it.

"Bouwmeester's at his best when he's logging all the 5-on-5 and [penalty-kill] minutes. The offense flows from his ability to just be so mobile. If you're a step behind defensively, he can really put a lot of pressure on you. In Calgary there was a green light every shift. I don't think we want to restrict that because he's got great awareness on how to come back and get back into play."

With Jordan Leopold also added to the Blues' defensive mix, the team traded away veteran Wade Redden to the Boston Bruins on Wednesday, and for the moment Kris Russell will be a healthy scratch.

"The difficult one for us [to sit out] is Russell because Russell's playing very well," Hitchcock said. "In talking to him, nobody better blink because he's going to get in and he's going to knock you out.

"Sure, we've got the six going [Thursday], but we're in a game-by-game basis and we know how good Kris was playing. It's somebody else's opportunity, but we have no reservations putting him back in the lineup. This is a tough pill for him to swallow because he's been playing as well as anybody back there right now, but he's going to be patient, wait his turn, be a good teammate like he always is. When it's his turn, I think he's going to jump all over it."

The Blues also announced they signed forward Chris Porter to a two-year contract extension that will pay him $650,000 in 2013-14 and $700,000 in 2014-15. Porter has spent the past six seasons shuffling between the Blues and their American Hockey League team, the Peoria Rivermen. This season, he's played 15 NHL games and 12 in the AHL.

"It's rewarding, for sure," said Porter, who has a goal and an assist with the Blues this season while playing on a one-year, two-way contract. "Nothing's ever come easy for a lot of guys. My situation, getting sent down, I never looked at it as a bad thing. I went down and worked extremely hard to get back here and to be rewarded with a contract, I'm extremely excited. Hopefully I can continue to play the way I've played and help this team win."

We had the Blackhawks' potential lines earlier (; here is what the Blues' likely will go with:

Andy McDonald - David Backes - Alexander Steen

Jaden Schwartz - Patrik Berglund - Chris Stewart

David Perron - Vladimir Sobotka - Vladimir Tarasenko

Adam Cracknell - Chris Porter - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Jordan Leopold - Kevin Shattenkirk

Barret Jackman - Roman Polak

Brian Elliott

Jake Allen

Scratched: Kris Russell, Ian Cole

Injured: T.J. Oshie (lower body), Jaroslav Halak (lower body), Scott Nichol (soreness), Jamie Langenbrunner (hip)

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