Flames-Blues Preview

Currently in his 10th NHL season, defenseman Jay Bouwmeester has

never appeared in a postseason game.

That will change when the St. Louis Blues open the playoffs next

week, thanks to a trade prior to the deadline that ended his days

with the struggling Calgary Flames.

Bouwmeester will face his former team for the first time since

the deal as St. Louis seeks a season-best, five-game home winning

streak Thursday night.

The Blues sought defensive depth as they clung to eighth place

in the Western Conference when they sent a conditional first-round

pick and two prospects to the Flames for Bouwmeester on April

1.

St. Louis (27-17-2) has won nine of 12 with Bouwmeester in the

lineup and guaranteed the veteran his first postseason experience

with a 3-1 win over Colorado on Tuesday.

“It’s one little item checked off our list,” captain David

Backes said of clinching a playoff berth. “We’ve had a pretty good

run to get to where we need to get.”

The Blues, who conclude their regular season Saturday at home

against NHL-best Chicago, are battling Los Angeles and San Jose for

home-ice advantage in the first round.

Bouwmeester, who leads active players with 633 consecutive games

played, spent six seasons with Florida before signing a five-year

contract with Calgary in 2009, never making the postseason.

“You want to have success,” said Bouwmeester, who recorded his

fifth assist with the Blues on Patrik Berglund’s power-play goal

Tuesday. “It’s fun winning. We’ve had a pretty good stretch

here.”

His former team, eliminated from the playoffs for a fourth

straight year, also has excelled lately despite making multiple

trades earlier this month.

Calgary (19-23-4) had won five of six and three straight before

falling to Nashville 4-3 on Tuesday. Rookie Roman Cervenka scored

twice to give him three goals and an assist during a season-best,

three-game point streak.

The Flames have been playing with plenty of new faces with eyes

on the future after trading Bouwmeester as well as franchise

cornerstone Jarome Iginla to Pittsburgh and Blake Comeau to

Columbus.

“There’s a lot of new guys playing,” said 36-year-old goaltender

Miikka Kiprusoff, who reportedly is considering retirement after

the season. “You know, it’s not fun to lose but it’s good to see

our young guys. They played well again (Tuesday) and good to see

them getting chances to play.”

Kiprusoff has a career-worst 3.44 goals-against average this

season, but he made 36 saves and Cervenka scored twice as the

Flames beat St. Louis 3-2 in the last meeting March 24 to end a

three-game skid in the series.

Both matchups this season have been in Calgary, including the

Blues’ 5-2 victory Feb. 15 as David Perron scored twice and

Alexander Steen had a goal and two assists.

St. Louis has held opponents to one goal in four consecutive

home games – all victories. Brian Elliott started each of those

contests after going 1-4-1 with a 4.31 GAA in his first six home

outings.

Elliott is 7-2-0 with a 1.14 GAA in his last nine starts overall

and has a 1.83 GAA in five career starts versus the Flames.

Kiprusoff is 7-3-1 with a 1.36 GAA in his last 11 versus St.

Louis, which may be without defenseman Barret Jackman after he was

injured blocking a shot Tuesday.