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Need to Know: Stanley Cup Final

Bruins will battle St. Louis Blues in 1970 rematch

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins / BostonBruins.com

BOSTON - Bruce Cassidy may have grown up on the outskirts of Ottawa, but his heart has always been with the Black & Gold. As a child, Boston's bench boss delivered newspapers in his neighborhood and, one day, when a photo of Bobby Orr's famous Stanley-Cup clinching goal made it to print he made sure to save a copy.

Cassidy cut out the shot of No. 4 flying through the air and tacked it to his bedroom wall. For years - until it turned yellow, as he put it - the photo served as a subtle reminder of what was possible.

"I don't know if the players appreciate that like maybe we did once growing up," Cassidy said of Bruins history. "And I'm not being disrespectful saying that, I know they've got a lot of other outlets that they go to in their down time…I hope they do, it will be their loss if they don't. We try to talk about that with them sometimes about the history [and] legacies."

Forty-nine years after Orr and the Big, Bad Bruins swept the St. Louis Blues in the 1970 Stanley Cup Final, the teams will meet again on the same stage. And this version of the Black & Gold will have its own chance to cement its place in Boston sports lore.

For the Bruins' veteran core of Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, and Tuukka Rask, this marks their third trip to the Cup Final in nine years. And they would like nothing more than to add a second championship to their resumes.

"I think it makes you appreciate and makes you understand how hard it is," said Bergeron, who was 25 when the Bruins won the Cup in 2011 and 27 when they returned to the Final in 2013. "I'm very thankful to be in this opportunity and to compete for a Cup. I think in a way it's different, where I've matured and I've come to realize that it's not easy to get to this point and make the most of it."

Video: Bergeron discusses opportunity to be in Finals

Take a closer look at the Stanley Cup Final between the Bruins and Blues:

Bruins Lineup

With 11 days off between their Eastern Conference championship, the Bruins - in the Cup Final for the 20th time in team history - will certainly be rested. Zdeno Chara (missed ECF clincher), David Krejci (illness), and Brad Marchand (maintenance) all appear ready to go for Game 1, meaning Boston's lineup should look like this for the start of the series.

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - David Backes
Marcus Johansson - Charlie Coyle - Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom - Sean Kuraly - Noel Acciari

Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk - Connor Clifton

Tuukka Rask
Jaroslav Halak

Scratches: Steven Kampfer, Karson Kuhlman, Kevan Miller (injured), John Moore, and Chris Wagner (injured).

Video: Cassidy preparing for tough foe in St. Louis

Opposing View

A Remarkable Run

On the morning of Jan. 3, there was one team all alone at the bottom of the NHL standings. Fast-forward four months and that team is now the Western Conference champion.

Yes, the St. Louis Blues were in the basement as the calendar turned to 2019. But a remarkable run throughout the season's second half has propelled them all the way to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1970.

The Blues, under the direction of interim coach Craig Berube, posted a record of 30-10-5 over the final 45 games of the regular season, good for an NHL-best 65 points. Overall, St. Louis finished with 99 points, tied with Winnipeg, and one shy of Nashville for the top spot in the Central Division.

"They've been such a great team, one of the best teams since early January or whatever the date is," said Charlie Coyle. "They're big, they're hard-nosed, they limit your time and space, they're all over you. They've had great goaltending as of late and they've got four lines that can play and score and compete. They're gonna be a big challenge for us."

In addition to Berube, who took over head-coaching duties on Nov. 19, rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington had a massive role in the turnaround. The 25-year-old took over the starting role on Jan. 7 and posted a remarkable 24-5-1 record with a .927 save percentage and 1.89 goals against average in 32 games with the Blues.

"I'm not much of a scout, but he's a great kid," said Connor Clifton who was a teammate of Binnington's in Providence last season. "Obviously he's been an awesome goalie, he's showing it this year. Probably been a crazy ride this year.

"He's an aggressive goalie, he's gonna make a lot of first saves. He's also athletic and just a great kid, like I said. I don't know how to beat him. When we do our goalie report soon, hopefully we learn how."

Video: Coyle talks challenges of facing Blues

Rolling Along

St. Louis has carried that success throughout the postseason, taking down the Winnipeg Jets, Dallas Stars, and San Jose Sharks. The Blues dispatched divisional rival Winnipeg in six games during the opening round, before sneaking by the Stars in a thrilling seven-game tilt in Round 2.

The Blues won the decisive Game 7 in double overtime, when St. Louis native Pat Maroon beat Stars goalie Ben Bishop at the 5:50 mark of the second extra session.

St. Louis advanced to the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2016 and took down the Sharks - who finished second in the West with 101 points during the regular season - in six games.

It is the third time in franchise history that the Blues have made it to the Cup Final. They reached the championship round in each of their first three seasons (1967-70), but were swept each time, twice by Montreal and once by the Bruins.

By the Numbers

After scoring just 11 goals during the regular season, Blues forward Jaden Schwartz has been immense during the playoffs, notching a team-leading 16 points and 12 goals in 19 games, both of which also rank third in the NHL.

Russian winger Vladimir Tarasenko ranks second on the Blues with eight goals, while No. 1 center Ryan O'Reilly and captain Alex Pietrangelo have chipped in 14 and 13 points, respectively.

Binnington has played all 19 games with a 12-7 record and a 2.36 goals against average (sixth) and .914 save percentage (ninth).

Overall, the Blues are averaging three goals per game (fourth) and 2.53 goals against (fifth). Their power play ranks ninth (19.4%) and penalty kill places 11th (78%).

"I think they're very similar to us, the way they play, forechecking team, they play pretty North-South, use all four lines, fourth line particularly gets a lot of assignments like ours," said Cassidy. "Goaltenders are both playing excellent. Their D is bigger than ours, but both can move the puck, so I expect the games will be probably lower scoring, more physical. I think they're a bit of our twin, so to speak, the way they balance their minutes…for the most part, I see a lot of similarities."

Video: DeBrusk discusses scrimmage, Blues

Projected St. Louis lineup:

Jaden Schwartz - Brayden Schenn - Vladimir Tarasenko
Sammy Blais - Ryan O'Reilly - David Perron
Patrick Maroon - Tyler Bozak - Robert Thomas
Ivan Barbashev - Oskar Sundqvist - Alex Steen

Joel Edmundson - Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester - Colton Parayko
Vince Dunn (injured) - Carl Gunnarsson

Jordan Binnington
Jake Allen

This Season

The Bruins and Blues split two meetings in 2018-19, with Chris Wagner (two goals, assist) and David Krejci (three assists) pacing Boston with three points apiece across the season series. Eight players for the Blues had a point each over the two games.

Tuukka Rask played both games against St. Louis, allowing three total goals. Binnington (win) and Jake Allen (loss) split the matchups for the Blues.

Jan. 17 at BOS - Bruins 5, Blues 2

With the game tied at 2 entering the third period, the Bruins scored three unanswered in the final frame, tallies from Wagner, Brad Marchand, and Sean Kuraly. Backes, a healthy scratch the night before in Philadelphia, notched his fifth goal of the season, on the power play, to knot things at 2 with four minutes left in the second.

Rask made 28 saves for his 252nd career win, which tied Boston's franchise record.

Video: Rask ties club record in 5-2 win against Blues

Feb. 23 at STL - Bruins 1, Blues 2 (SO)

In a matchup of two of the hottest teams in the NHL at the time, the Blues snapped Boston's seven-game win streak for their 12th victory in 13 games. The shootout lasted six rounds with Binnington turning away Danton Heinen to clinch the win. Alex Steen and Wagner had the goals in regulation, while Sammy Blais had the winner in the shootout.

The loss also ended Boston's five-game Western Conference road swing at 4-0-1.

Video: BOS Recap: Wagner scores in shootout loss to Blues

Hello, Old Friend

David Backes played the first 10 years of his National Hockey League career with the St. Louis Blues, including the last five as the team's captain. He ranks in the top 10 in franchise history in games (5th), goals (7th), assists (10th), and points (7th).
But for the next few weeks, the Blues will be the enemy.

"There's still some good friends on that team, one of my best friends [Alex Pietrangelo], he's the captain of that team," said Backes. "I told him I love him now, I'm gonna love him afterwards, but I'm gonna hate him for the next three weeks. I think that's a mutual decision. We're gonna battle our butts off for this ultimate prize.

"We'll patch up whatever needs to be patched up afterwards, but it's all about what's in this room, what our goal is, what we need to do to win these games."

Read more on Backes' first trip to the Cup Finaland his reaction to playing his old team.

Video: Backes set to face former team in Cup Final

Postseason History

The Bruins are 2-0 in two previous postseason series against the Blues, with Boston holding an 8-0 record and a 48-15 scoring edge.

1970 Stanley Cup Final - Boston 4, St. Louis 0

As we mentioned above, the Bruins swept the Blues on Orr's historic overtime goal in Game 4 on Mother's Day at Boston Garden. The Bruins tied with Chicago (99 points each) for the top spot in the NHL that season, with St. Louis topping the West Division with 86 points.

Boston outscored the Blues, 20-7, in the series, including blowout wins in Game 1 (6-1) and Game 2 (6-2). Johnny Bucyk, Ed Westfall, and Johnny 'Pie' McKenzie had the winners in the first three games.

Video: 1970: Bobby Orr's iconic OT goal wins Cup for Bruins

1972 NHL Semifinals - Boston 4, St. Louis 0

The last time these two teams met in the postseason was back in 1972 during the NHL's semifinals. The Bruins were the NHL's No. 1 seed with 119 points and 54 victories, while St. Louis finished third in the West Division with 67 points.

The Bruins cruised through the four games, outscoring St. Louis, 28-8, including a 10-2 victory in Game 2. Phil Esposito had the winning goals in Games 3 and 4.

Fun Facts

  • The Bruins have won the Stanley Cup in each of the years in which they have faced the Blues in the playoffs (1970 and 1972).
  • The Blues are the only opponent the Bruins have faced in the playoffs who have never won a postseason game vs. Boston.
  • The ten goals the Bruins scored vs. St. Louis in Game 2 of their 1972 semifinal series tied a club record for most goals in a playoff game. The Bruins won a 10-0 decision over Toronto on Apr. 2, 1969.
  • The Bruins and Blues set NHL records in their 1972 semifinal series, as Boston's 28 goals were the highest ever by one team in a four-game series and the 36 combined by the Bruins and Blues were the most ever by both teams in a four-game series.

Boston vs. St. Louis

Boston and St. Louis are no strangers to meeting in the championship round, as they are the only two cities to ever meet in the finals in all four major modern sports leagues. It will be the 11th matchup between the cities and second in the Stanley Cup Final, with Boston holding a 7-3 edge.

There have also been four World Series matchups between the Red Sox and Cardinals and the Super Bowl 36 showdown between the Patriots and Rams. The Celtics matched up against the St. Louis Hawks - now based in Atlanta - in four NBA Finals.

Stanley Cup Final

1970 | Boston 4, St. Louis 0

NBA Finals

1957 | Boston 4, St. Louis 3
1958 | Boston 2, St. Louis 4
1960 | Boston 4, St. Louis 2
1961 | Boston 4, St. Louis 1

Super Bowl

2002 | New England 20, St. Louis 17

World Series

1946 | Boston 3, St. Louis 4
1967 | Boston 3, St. Louis 4
2004 | Boston 4, St. Louis 0
2013 | Boston 4, St. Louis 2

Series Schedule

Game 1: Monday, May 27 at 8 p.m. (TD Garden, Boston, MA) - NBC

Game 2: Wednesday, May 29 at 8 p.m. (TD Garden, Boston, MA) - NBCSN

Game 3: Saturday, June 1 at 8 p.m. (Enterprise Center, St. Louis, MO) - NBCSN

Game 4: Monday, June 3 at 8 p.m. (Enterprise Center, St. Louis, MO) - NBC

Game 5: Thursday, June 6 at 8 p.m. (TD Garden, Boston, MA) - NBC*

Game 6: Sunday, June 9 at 8 p.m. (Enterprise Center, St. Louis, MO) - NBC*

Game 7: Wednesday, June 12 at 8 p.m. (TD Garden, Boston, MA) - NBC*

All Stanley Cup Final games can be heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

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