Beyond the Boxcars – Jay Bouwmeester




Jay Bouwmeester joined the Flames as the plum of the 2009 free agent class, as the Edmonton native returned to Alberta in order to complete the puzzle Darryl Sutter was constructing on the blueline. His arrival to work with Robyn Regher, Dion Phaneuf and Mark Giordano was intended to herald the beginning of an era where the Flames’ defence was the cornerstone of a successful franchise.

That didn’t exactly work out as planned, obviously. Bouwmeester’s scoring dried up when he moved to the more difficult Western Conference, although he and Giordano did make for a very solid pair most nights during the 09/10 season. In 10/11, the trade of Ian White cemented Bouwmeester as Robyn Regher’s partner on the primary shutdown pairing, and through about 65 games, that duo, and the team, were operating at a pretty decent level before things went sour to complete the year. What follows is a look at Bouwmeester’s 10/11, with his 5v5 scoring chance and possession numbers examined, in order to see what worked and what didn’t for the rearguard.

First, let’s look at Bouwmeester’s 5v5 work by the scoring chance metric, along with a couple of notable D partners:







Team   1044 946 0.525
BOUWMEESTER   437 399 0.523
REGHER   342 339 0.502
4 AND 28   255 253 0.502
4 AND 5   85 65 0.567


Bouwmeester ran just a bit beind the team numbers, which isn’t ideal for a guy making 6.68M a year, but given the quality of opposition he faced and the club’s lack of genuinely elite forwards, not terrible either. His running mate Robyn Regher had a 5v5 SC percentage of 50.2%, which suggests that Bouwmeester got a few extra offensive opportunities over the course of the season, since their numbers working together were also 50.2%. Bouwmeester’s best partner was Giordano by the numbers, but it would be fair to note that the duo didn’t work together as often as in 09/10, and when they did play together, the team likely was chasing offence. More OZone starts, in other words, which would goose the totals.

One thing I did notice is the relatively limited effect Bouwmeester’s presence had on the SC numbers posted by the Flames’ top forwards. Hardly any of them really had much in the way of positive or negative changes to their SC percentage whether they were with Bouwmeester or not:


  Total F A % W/4 F A % WO/4 F A %
B. MORRISON   213 206 50.8%   80 76 51.3%   133 130 50.6%
J. IGINLA   430 371 53.7%   212 172 55.2%   218 199 52.3%
O. JOKINEN   302 288 51.2%   149 144 50.9%   153 144 51.5%
R. BOURQUE   262 300 46.6%   114 123 48.1%   148 177 45.5%
C. GLENCROSS   269 237 53.2%   118 100 54.1%   151 137 52.4%
D. MOSS   162 125 56.4%   67 64 51.1%   95 61 60.9%
A. TANGUAY   354 301 54.0%   176 144 55.0%   178 157 53.1%


Only Moss’ numbers look much different with JB backing him, but keep in mind that he had a good run centering the 4th line. When he had Bouwmeester behind him, he was likely facing a better quality of player as a rule. Those numbers hint to me that Bouwmeester might have been somewhat helpful for the top players in the main, but he wasn’t someone that drove the play on his own. I don’t doubt that the players in question might have had easier ZoneStarts when he wasn’t on the ice, so his positive effect, and that of Regher, might be slightly undercounted by this measure. Still, I would have liked to see more of a positive lift from having Bouwmeester backing the Flames’ better forwards.


Bouwmeester’s SC numbers look OK in general terms, and as we’ll see in a bit, run slightly ahead of his possession numbers. One thing that I was able to do with the outshooting figures from was break the season down into a couple of segments. As I’ve mentioned in the past, the Flames were a good outshooting team all season, but were particularly strong through about the first 65 games. I’ve used the St. Louis game on March 1st as a dividing line because Morrison and Moss were injured shortly thereafter, and as we all know, the team began its painful slide down to 10th.

To get started, here are Bouwmeester’s 5v5 full-season possession numbers when the game was tied. As a refresher, tied numbers are used to eliminate any padding of shooting totals due to score effect:


Player Shots% F’Wick% Corsi% EVSV% EVSH% PDO
JAY BOUWMEESTER 0.502 0.507 0.509 0.902 7.4% 97.6
Team 0.526 0.520 0.513 0.910 7.1% 98.1


Bouwmeester runs a fair bit behind the team by this metric, although like the club as a whole, you’ll notice his goaltenders didn’t exactly help him any. At any rate, those are pretty mediocre numbers for a high end defender on a decent team. Nik Lidstrom had numbers more in the .540 range across the board, just as one example. Lidstrom also had Datsyuk and Zetterberg carrying a nice chunk of the load, but I still expected a bit more from Bouwmeester in this regard, since the team was decent in the collective by this measure.

Again, though, what caught my eye as I examined the numbers was the cliff Bouwmeester fell off after the aforementioned St. Louis game. Through the first 65 games of the year, he was doing much better than his final totals. The next table shows Bouwmeester, along with Regher, Giordano, and all the top forwards except Moss and Morrison through game 65. I excluded those two because they were absent for the finish of the year, and I wanted to include players that were around for both of the segments I’m using. The order of stats is as with the table above:
Team 0.527 0.521 0.520 0.918 7.6% 99.4
JAY BOUWMEESTER 0.515 0.524 0.528 0.913 8.2% 99.5
OLLI JOKINEN 0.549 0.526 0.521 0.897 7.3% 97.0
JAROME IGINLA 0.512 0.495 0.506 0.911 7.5% 98.6
ALEX TANGUAY 0.503 0.487 0.499 0.920 8.5% 100.5
CURTIS GLENCROSS 0.572 0.565 0.558 0.915 10.1% 101.6
RENE BOURQUE 0.475 0.485 0.470 0.911 4.2% 95.3
ROBYN REGEHR 0.509 0.507 0.501 0.913 7.9% 99.2
MARK GIORDANO 0.530 0.522 0.518 0.911 5.1% 96.2

Bouwmeester is running right along with the team to this juncture, and hasn’t had any exceptional luck to goose his boxcars. To this point, he really was doing well, since his numbers look a lot like Gio’s even with a heavier competitive burden factored in. It’s what happened from this point to the finish that was worrisome:


Team 0.524 0.514 0.485 0.879 5.2% 93.1
JAY BOUWMEESTER 0.449 0.437 0.434 0.862 3.8% 90.0
OLLI JOKINEN 0.524 0.523 0.484 0.923 4.7% 97.0
JAROME IGINLA 0.486 0.472 0.452 0.870 9.8% 96.8
ALEX TANGUAY 0.460 0.450 0.420 0.870 10.9% 97.9
CURTIS GLENCROSS 0.568 0.509 0.481 0.857 4.3% 90.0
RENE BOURQUE 0.547 0.508 0.487 0.930 5.8% 98.8
ROBYN REGEHR 0.481 0.465 0.463 0.833 2.0% 85.3
MARK GIORDANO 0.571 0.544 0.510 0.917 7.8% 99.5


…and right off the planet he went. The team was slightly worse than they’d been, and Tanguay’s numbers look almost as crappy, but that slide from the good side of the shot clock to Oileresque numbers is stunning for a player of Bouwmeester’s pedigree. Players have slumps, of course, and he certainly didn’t get a bounce at any point during this stretch, but holy hell, those possession numbers are inexcusable for a top-end defenceman. 

As a rule, I’m inclined to give Bouwmeester quite a bit of latitude because of the load that the Flames ask him to carry. That said, he was legitimately terrible to finish the season, and while I’d be shocked if that level of play carried over for another three years, the Flames must be wondering what exactly they’re paying for.

I think what’s most concerning is that he really didn’t drive results in the manner that an elite defender would be expected to, and since the Flames are paying him elite dollars, that can’t sit well with the management or the fans. His contract might render him largely untradable as well, so an exit strategy isn’t likely to be easily found. If we’ve seen all Bouwmeester can be, he’s being overpaid by at least 2 million a year. He’s not the only player on the roster that can be said about, but the really expensive players have to perform if a team wants to compete, and what we saw from Jay Bouwmeester when the Flames needed one last rush this spring wasn’t close to good enough. Unless he has more in the tank than what we’ve observed from him thus far in Calgary, the next three years might be very long indeed.



  • I think there’s probably more offense in Bouwmeester than what we’ve seen so far. His SH% and on-ice finish% numbers have been pretty bad so far and at some point you’d expect those to bounce up again.

    That said, I don’t think we’re too far off in that regard. If he gets 35 points next year that’s better but not full value for those dollars.

    And the end of the year thing is puzzling. He was terrible by eye for sure and the rest of the team followed him off a cliff it seems (except Giordano).

    • icedawg_42

      yeah I think he’ll be better, but very hard pressed to live up to that contract. That said, I still like him for the most part. There’s still a lot to be said for a guy who can log big minutes against the opponent’s best – I don’t care much if a defenseman is putting up numbers if he is shutting down guys like the Sedins et al. Bob – anything showing how much of a sh!t kicking his numbers took when he was paired with steady Steve? Its a long way back, but I seem to remember, it wasn’t pretty.

  • Nice post. I noticed that you mentioned Jay-Bo’s workload but didn’t post the stats.

    He and Regehr faced by far the toughest comp of any d-men on the team who played more than 30 games.

    While he definitely is not near value for his salary, he is in the positive for possession while playing the other team’s top line every night. There are a lot of teams who don’t have that kind of pairing. And in addition, it frees up guys like Gio to play 2nd line comp and some easier zone starts.

    • This is where score tied/behind/ahead data becomes useful. I may do another post on this in the future, but here’s Bouwmeesters splits with the score tied/while ahead/while trailing (corsi):


      The score tied number is just okay given the team results at that game state. His trailing number is decent and the reason his near-team worst “while ahead” ratio doesn’t push him off a cliff.

      Again, some of this has to do with the Flames lack of truly elite ES forwards in terms of possession. But as Bob intimates throughout the post, Bouwmeester should be effecting the play more at his dollar figure.

  • Agreed. The score effects make a huge difference. That said, the biggest issue most people have with J-Bo is his salary. I think he’s definitely overpaid, but if he was making $5m per, we’d all be thrilled to have him on the team.

    I try to ignore the overpay at this point because I think the team would be MUCH worse off without him.

    • CP is GARBAGE

      I agree, Bouwmeester is probably a 5 million dollar d-man, maybe 5.5. Sure he’s overpaid, but show me one premier UFA player over the last decade that isn’t. Hossa? Campbell? Gomez? Drury? Brierre? Kovalchuck? Sundin? the only exception I can think of is the Sedin’s as they headed towards their UFA status, and considering they were a package deal, I would say that is an exceptional case that we likely will not see again in our lifetimes.

      the heavy criticism J-Bo faces is largely unwarrented. The high end contracts aren’t holding this team back (Iginla, Bouwmeester, Kiprusoff) it’s the flotsam of 3 million dollar contracts they’ve accumilated that are largely unmoveable (Stajan, Hagman, Kotalik, Bourque, Sarich, etc etc). The biggest challenge the flames have is ridding themselves of 3-4 of these contracts and somehow replacing them with effective young talent…..good luck.

  • I was curious about that drop off too (although I note that the gap between the team Fenwick% and shot% v. Corsi% really widens in those 17 games) so I thought I would go back and look at the schedule.

    Those 17 games were:
    Phoenix X2
    Vancouver X2
    Colorado X2
    Anaheim X2
    San Jose
    Edmonton X2
    St. Louis

    While I have tried to run the numbers (where the fudge on do you get team corsi?) by my eye this is a slightly above normal quality of opposition. You have every game against Western Conference opponents, 10 of 17 against playoff teams (only playoff team they didn’t play in this stretch was Detroit) and at the time, Dallas was a near playoff team. While Colorado and Edmonton were clearly duds at this point in time, Phoenix, LA, Dallas, Nashville and Chicago were fighting for their playoff lives. These teams also feature some of the toughest tough-comp out there (Sedins and Kesler, Thornton-Marleau-Heatley-Clowe-Pavelski, Perry-Getzlaf-Ryan, Toews-Kane)

    While I think most fans around here are familiar with the phenomenon of the Flames being underwhelming against better teams, I think this goes part way to explaining the droop in the possession numbers.

    This does not excuse a $6.8 million defender from playing like a $4 million defender, but the numbers may not indicate that he was playing like a $2 million defender.

  • icedawg_42


    Now listen. Everyone knows that the flames suck and they shouldn’t even be in the league. They are a disgrace to the NHL. The only reson they won the cup was because the Oilers defense man scored on his own net. If that didn’t happen they never would have won. Vancouver is the way to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! At least they can get close to a cup. Vancouver over Boston in 6

  • MC Hockey

    Hi Robert, So I guess you’ll be on soon eh? Anyways, as a smart guy and I am sure others are as well, I still have trouble following your arguments as you don’t include a glossary of your special statistics in every article. The glossary done a few weeks back only included about 3 of your statistics in it and was mostly a joke like we cannot figure out Dutter = Darryl Sutter. Help a guy out here so we can enjoy your articles more!