SUN Hockey Pool

'Meester Longevity

IAN BUSBY Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:29 PM ET

When the puck drops Tuesday night at the ’Dome, Jay Bouwmeester will be the new owner of a prestigious NHL record.

But to Bouwmeester, it will be just another NHL game, although it happens to be his 496th straight one — most among defenceman all-time — breaking the record he shares with Karlis Skrastins.

Bouwmeester would need to nearly double this streak to take a run at Doug Jarvis’ overall record of 964 straight games.

Since late in the 2003-04 season when he was with Florida, Bouwmeester has just assumed he would be in the lineup every night, skating away from big hits and avoiding errant pucks.

“Everybody does until something happens to you,” said the 27-year-old Edmontonian.

“No one goes out there hoping they get hurt. You go out to play the game and stuff happens. It’s not in the front of your mind.

“If you are going out there worried about getting hurt, you won’t be good to anybody. You go out there and play the game.

“I’ve been lucky that I haven’t had whatever happen to me and I haven’t missed any time. There’s no secret to it.”

While no one would claim Bouwmeester is the next Scott Stevens as a physical blueliner, there is sometimes no way to avoid contact.

“He’s such a smooth player and reads the play so well, for the opposition, it’s tough to get him for a big hit,” said fellow Flames blueliner Mark Giordano. “I rarely, if ever, see one on him.

“Four hundred and ninety-five? That’s a pretty good career for a lot of guys. To play that in a row is pretty cool.

“He’s playing almost 30 a night so that’s been impressive, too.”

This isn’t the first time the Flames have had the league’s top iron-man blueliner.

Back on March 1, 2008, Cory Sarich was holding a run of 453 straight games played before he was made a healthy scratch.

It’s one thing to go through the NHL battles unscathed enough to suit up every night, but you also have to earn a spot, as well.

“When you’re in the lineup, you’re in a routine playing games and staying in shape,” Sarich said. “It’s a lot different when you aren’t (always) in the lineup and have to get ready. You miss a big stretch, it really tests you.”

Bouwmeester was a workhorse going back to junior with the Medicine Hat Tigers, as the only WHL games he missed were for international competitions. If he were to continue the streak, he could overtake Jarvis around December or January of the 2016-17 season. Bouwmeester isn’t focused on that, however.

“I don’t really care. If you can play, you play,” Bouwmeester said.

“I’ve been able to play for a while and that’s what I’ve done. No one wants to take a day off. It’s a lot more fun playing than sitting and watching.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ianbusby57


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