SUN Hockey Pool

D-man remains un-Jay-ded

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:03 PM ET

EDMONTON — Another NHL season is winding down.

Another season seemingly going down the drain for Jay Bouwmeester barring a miracle.

“It’s an opportunity. We still have games left,” the Calgary Flames defenceman said after a practice in Leduc.

As the Flames face the Edmonton Oilers Saturday night in Bouwmeester’s hometown, they’re almost down to their last gasp. The general consensus is they must win all six games remaining — and also receive some help — to make the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Falling short will mean nine NHL seasons without a trip to the playoffs for Bouwmeester.

He won’t hold the record for most big-league games without a trip to the second season — that belongs to teammate Olli Jokinen, who skated in 799 games before a trip to the dance — but it will be another disappointment.

“Everyone would like to have it locked up and preparing for it, but that’s not the case. You look around, it’s so tight and so many teams are in the same position — it seems like that every year,” said Bouwmeester, not wanting to go into details about his personal run.

“But it’s fun. The games are fun. You want to be in that position where you have something to play for. I’ve been on the opposite end of that, where you’re out of it and that’s not fun.”

The games may be fun, but Bouwmeester hasn’t enjoyed it lately.

During the first three games of this trip, the rangy defenceman has failed to garner a point while posting a minus-6 rating.

In his defence, Bouwmeester averages almost

26 minutes of ice time per game and is almost always on the ice against the opposition’s top lines. But you can’t deny he’s struggled, including a dreadful game in San Jose.

“He just wasn’t himself,” said head coach Brent Sutter. “He was caught out of position too much and maybe thinking the game too much instead of just relaxing and playing and being himself.

“He’s been a pretty good player for us all year, just the last few games it’s gotten away from him. He’ll get it back.”

The Flames need it to have any hope of making the playoffs, although Bouwmeester is trying not to put extra pressure on himself.

“You always want to try and contribute and play well, but that’s everybody’s focus every game,” he said. “Sometimes things don’t exactly go as planned or the way you’d like, but it’s not from a lack of caring or effort from anyone in here.

“We know what the situation is. Win all the games and we’ve got 97 points. Someone was saying no one’s ever missed the playoffs with that many points.

“Give yourself a chance. That’s all you can do.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/RandySportak


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