SUN Hockey Pool

Bouwmeester on brink of dubious mark

Flames defenceman Jay Bouwmeester collides with Kings forward Jordan Nolan at the Scotiabank...

Flames defenceman Jay Bouwmeester collides with Kings forward Jordan Nolan at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alta., March 28, 2012. (TODD KOROL/Reuters)

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:48 PM ET

CALGARY - Some records, you simply have no interest in breaking.

But for Calgary Flames defenceman Jay Bouwmeester, it’s almost a guarantee that as his impressive ironman streak continues, another NHL pinnacle will fall.

It’s one that won’t be a source of pride.

Assuming the Edmonton product plays the remaining four contests over the next week and remains healthy and available for the foreseeable future, Bouwmeester should break Guy Charron’s 734-game benchmark of the most NHL contests without a single playoff appearance in Game 18 next season.

Bouwmeester’s only professional playoff appearance was during the lockout, suiting up for the Chicago Wolves in the Calder Cup final against the Philadelphia Phantoms.

“That was a long time ago now,” said Bouwmeester, who has played 713 NHL games with the Flames and the Florida Panthers so far.

“It was pretty fun.”

Not so fun is the fact he hasn’t had a sniff since. His third season with the Flames seems like it will finish the same as his previous two and the half-dozen he spent in Florida — watching the playoffs on TV.

“There were years where we were way out of it. There were a couple years where we were right there ’til the end and didn’t get it,” Bouwmeester said of his time with the Panthers. “When you’re on a team that’s way back and you know you don’t really stand a chance in February, it wears on you. You go out and play the games and you want to play well and try to win all you can, but at the end of the day, it sucks. You’re just not gonna get there.

“When you have the race and it’s close, it’s exciting. Everyone’s into it. The games seem to matter a lot more. It’s fun. You want to be in that competition.”

That reality might have ended Wednesday night for the Flames. They’ll need a lot of help from fellow Western Conference teams and to win every one of their final four games to have a snowball’s chance in hell of making the post-season and ending his record-teasing skid.

Charron played in parts of 12 NHL seasons and never made the playoffs with the Montreal Canadiens, the Detroit Red Wings, the Kansas City Scouts and the Washington Capitals between the late-1960s and early-80s.

The only shot Bouwmeester has at avoiding it is a miracle finish this season — or being scratched from a game sometime between today and Game 18 of the 2012-13 campaign.

“I think you approach it the same. At the end of the day, if you get in, that’s something that’s more of a monkey off your back than anything,” Bouwmeester said. “To say I want to get in more than the next guy, I don’t know about that, but it’s definitely a priority to me.”

For teammate Blake Comeau, who has played parts of seven seasons in the league and also never been involved in post-season action, there’s a similar anxiousness.

“It’s nice to still have meaningful games,” said the 26-year-old who was picked up on waivers from the New York Islanders this fall. “For me, it’s pretty special. I haven’t been in this tight of a race when I was out in Long Island. It’s a whole new situation for myself.

“Something that I want more than anything is to be able to get in the playoffs. That’s why you play as a competitor, to win the Stanley Cup.”

Sadly, being eliminated officially in the last week of the season may be as close as these two get for now.

But despite the disappointment that has either already or will begin to set in as the post-season picture becomes more clear, it’s a better fate than playing out the string for months rather than days.

“It was frustrating,” Comeau said of his time with the Islanders. “There was no one in Long Island that quit on the season, though. Guys were competitors — guys were playing for pride.

“Obviously, it sucked to be out of the race — sometimes earlier than others.”

Bouwmeester wholeheartedly agrees. The pressure the Flames feel now — having to win every game and hoping for help to squeak in — is better than showing up in flip-flops in February knowing golf season is just around the corner.

“For sure,” Bouwmeester said. “If it came down to being involved in a playoff race or be out come January or February, I think everyone would choose (this).

“Everybody ultimately wants to win the Stanley Cup. There’s steps towards that. Obviously, the first step is getting into the playoffs.”

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNMacfarlane


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