The Bruins are in the Stanley Cup Final, and that’s exciting enough. But good storylines in sports – particularly in championship rounds – are the icing on cake.
This series against the St. Louis Blues is chock full of great narratives, headed by the rich hockey history of this clash. The most iconic image in hockey history is Bruins all-time great Bobby Orr flying through the air at the old Boston Garden as he scored the game-winning goal of the 1970 Cup Final against the Blues. It also happens to be the last time that St. Louis has appeared in hockey’s ultimate series.
Sports history buffs will also be giddy regarding the almost eerie coincidences of Boston and St. Louis squaring off in sports championship rounds. In addition to the Blues – Bruins 1970 showdown, of which the Bruins won in a sweep, the Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots have each had extremely significant meetings with the sons of the Gateway Arch.
One of the Red Sox’ most crushing World Series defeats came in 1946 when the Sox owned the best record in Major League Baseball. It was Ted Williams’ best shot at a championship, but he was banged up in that showdown against the Cardinals as St. Louis won it seven games.
The Celtics won their first of an NBA record 17 championships against the old St. Louis Hawks in 1957 and also faced St. Louis several more times in the Finals during the Bill Russell era.
A bit more recent was the Patriots’ unforgettable upset of “The Greatest Show on Turf” St. Louis Rams in 2002, a victory that not only began the Pats’ football dynasty but also started Boston’s run of sports dominance that is now reaching its zenith in the past eight months.
And, of course, who could forget the Red Sox’ 86-year curse-breaking sweep of the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series. For good measure, the Sox also toppled St. Louis in the 2013 Fall Classic.
So, here we go again. Boston versus St. Louis.
The Blues will be shooting for history in trying to win the first Stanley Cup in their franchise’s history. They are tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs as having the longest Cup drought (50 years).
As for the Bruins, they are a franchise that is drenched in historical significance. A member of the NHL’s Original Six, the B’s can potentially break a tie with the Chicago Blackhawks for the fourth most Stanley Cup wins of all-time as both franchises currently have six titles.
With a Cup win, the B’s can also break an in-town tie with the Patriots for the “least” amount of championships. Here is where things currently stand in regard to the Hub title count.
Celtics 17 championships
Red Sox 9 championships
Patriots 6 championships
Bruins 6 championships
The Blues, like the Carolina Hurricanes, have one of the top blue lines in hockey. But things figure to be a bit more tough for the Bruins in the next couple of weeks. Jay Bowmeester and Colton Parayko are big and physical and could give the Bruins’ outstanding top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak a run for their money.
David Backes will also be a key figure in the series as Backes was St. Louis’ captain from 2011-16. The Bruins’ center has done a fine job in limited minutes this postseason as he recorded three points in the semi-finals against Columbus and had a key goal in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final against Carolina. Now at age 35, Backes is more of an emotional leader at this point – a veteran presence that could be considered the Zdeno Chara of the Bruins’ forwards.
But as is almost always the case at this point in game, the series could very well come down to simply which scorching hot goaltender stays scorching hot. Tuukka Rask and Jordan Binnington have both been unreal since mid-April, with Rask owning an NHL postseason low 1.84 Goals Against Average and Binnington owning just as many playoff wins as Rask this spring with 12.
Binnington should be fatigued by this point as he endured a six-game series against the Jets in Round 1, a seven game Marathon against the Stars in Round 2, and a six-gamer against the Sharks in the Western Conference Final.
Both netminders were unbreakable in their respective Game 7s this spring as Rask made 32 saves and allowed just one goal to the Maple Leafs in the first round, while Binnington made 29 saves and gave up just one goal in an epic double-overtime win over Dallas. In that clinic against the Stars, Binnington was in net for 85 minutes.
Game 1: Monday at Boston (8 p.m., NBC)
Game 2: Wednesday at Boston (8 p.m., NBCSN)
Game 3: Saturday, June 1 at St. Louis (8 p.m., NBCSN)
Game 4: Monday, June 3 at St. Louis (8 p.m., NBC)
Game 5: Thursday, June 6 at Boston (8 p.m., NBC)
Game 6: Sunday, June 9 at St. Louis (8 p.m., NBC)
Game 7: Wednesday, June 12 at Boston (8 p.m., NBC)