St. Louis Blues: Blues Clinch Playoffs and Give Bouwmeester First Playoff Game

Jacob Born@@Jacob_BornContributor IIIApril 23, 2013

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 04:  Jay Bouwmeester #19 of the St. Louis Blues awaits the start of play against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on April 4, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blues defeated the Blackhawks 4-3 in a shootout.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Finally, Jay Bouwmeester can breathe easy. For the first time in his NHL career, Bouwmeester will be heading to the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Tuesday night, the Blues defeated the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 at Scottrade Center. The win was the team's third straight at home, and the Blues got retribution for an awful 5-3 loss to the Avs. 

A major success of the Blues was their power play. For the first time since Feb. 21, the Blues scored multiple times on the power play. This season, the power play has been really passive, but tonight showed good things can happen when you shoot the puck. Chris Stewart scored the 100th goal of his career on a tip from Jordan Leopold, and Patrik Berglund put another deflection past Semyon Varlamov. 

Brian Elliott had a bounce-back game after letting in four goals on 19 shots by stopping 17 of Colorado's 18 shots. Elliott showed that he can still play well, even after a bad outing. Keeping his confidence is going to be huge for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs. 

But the man of the night was Bouwmeester.

Bouwmeester came into the NHL drafted third overall in 2002 by the Florida Panthers. He was an average player from 2002-2005, until he broke out in the 2005-2006 season. Bouwmeester had just five goals but had 41 assists, putting him at 46 points in 82 games, career highs at the time. 

He would continue to set career marks in goals scored each season, as well as eat up more and more minutes on the blue line for the Panthers. He would be traded to the Calgary Flames in 2009 for Jordan Leopold (now a fellow Blue Note) and a third-round draft pick in the 2009 draft. 

As a Flame, he would not experience the same offensive prowess as he did in Florida, but he would continue to be a consistent ice-time player, averaging nearly 28 minutes per game. On March 15, 2011, Bouwmeester set the record for most consecutive games played by a defenseman at 486 games. He would also eclipse the 750 mark of games played without making the playoffs.

His luck would change, however, on April 1, 2013, when he was traded to the St. Louis Blues. The Blues have continued to be in playoff contention throughout the season, and it was the best chance to break the streak and give him a shot at Lord Stanley's Cup. 

And thanks to 3-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, Bouwmeester finally gets that chance.