The Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues reached the Stanley Cup Final in part due to significant contributions from players who have returned home to play with their local team. Game 1 of the best-of-7 series is at TD Garden on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).
Three Massachusetts-born players, center Charlie Coyle from East Weymouth (12 points; six goals, six assists), defenseman Matt Grzelcyk from Charlestown (seven points; three goals, four assists) and center Chris Wagner from Walpole (two goals), have their sights set on achieving a feat last accomplished 90 years ago. Myles Lane, a defenseman from Melrose, is the only Massachusetts-born player to win the Stanley Cup with Bruins; he did it as a member of Boston's first NHL championship team in 1929.
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The 11 combined goals by Coyle, Grzelcyk and Wagner are the most by Massachusetts-born players in one playoff year in Bruins history. Coyle's six goals are tied for the most by a Massachusetts-born Bruins skater in a single playoff year, matching John Carter (1990) and Bob Sweeney (1988).
The Blues have gotten a lift from forward Pat Maroon (seven points; three goals, four assists), a St. Louis native who is playing his first season with his hometown team after signing as a free agent on July 10. Maroon scored the double-overtime winner against the Dallas Stars in Game 7 of the Western Conference Second Round and is the seventh player in Blues history to score a series-clinching goal in OT.
Bouwmeester, Backes set for Cup Final debuts
Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and Bruins forward David Backes are set to appear in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time after skating in their 16th and 13th NHL seasons, respectively.
Bouwmeester, acquired by the Blues in a trade with the Calgary Flames on April 1, 2013, has played 1,184 regular-season games; only seven NHL players played in more games prior to making their Stanley Cup Final debut.
Backes, who's played 928 regular-season games, spent his first 10 seasons (727 games played) with the Blues. He was their captain from 2011-12 to 2015-16 before signing with the Bruins on July 1, 2016. Backes is set to become the fifth player in NHL history to play at least 700 regular-season games with a team before facing his former club in the Stanley Cup Final. The last time it happened was 1973, when center Ralph Backstrom of the Chicago Blackhawks faced the Montreal Canadiens in the Final.
Each team also has another long-time veteran seeking his first Stanley Cup championship. Blues forward Alexander Steen has played 963 games during 14 seasons, and Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak has played 489 games during 13 seasons.
Video: Backes describes feeling of playing for Stanley Cup
Experience meets newcomers in Final
A total of 45 players have appeared in at least one game for the Bruins (23) and Blues (22) during the playoffs, including 37 (82.2 percent) who have yet to play in the Stanley Cup Final.
Six members of the Bruins have played on Stanley Cup-winning teams. Forward Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Krejci, defenseman Zdeno Chara and goalie Tuukka Rask remain from Boston's 2011 championship team. Also, forward Joakim Nordstrom was a member of the Cup-winning 2015 Chicago Blackhawks but did not play in the Final.
Two other Bruins have Cup Final experience; defenseman Torey Krug played for Boston in the 2013 Final against the Blackhawks and defenseman John Moore played in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final with the New York Rangers against the Los Angeles Kings.
Forward David Perron, now in his third stint with St. Louis, is the only member of the Blues to skate in the playoffs this year who has played in the Stanley Cup Final. Perron had two points (one goal, one assist) in four games for the Vegas Golden Knights during their five-game loss to the Washington Capitals last year.
Two others have been a part of championship teams. Forward Oskar Sundqvist was a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins when they won the Stanley Cup in 2016, though he was primarily a healthy scratch, playing in two postseason games and none in the Final against the San Jose Sharks. Forward Jordan Nolan, who last played in the NHL on Jan. 21, had one assist in six games during the 2012 Final to help the Kings win the Cup for the first time. He was also a member of the Kings in 2014 but did not play in the Final.
St. Louis is the seventh team in the past 35 years to enter the championship round with no more than 10 games of Stanley Cup Final experience on its roster. The others are the 1985 Philadelphia Flyers (six games), the 2006 Edmonton Oilers (seven), the 2007 Ottawa Senators (seven), the 2011 Vancouver Canucks (seven), the 2016 San Jose Sharks (10) and the 2017 Nashville Predators (five).
Boston's top three point-producers from its 2011 Cup run are key members of the Bruins eight years later. Krejci led all NHL players with 23 points (12 goals, 11 assists) in 25 games. Bergeron had 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 23 games, and Marchand had 19 points (11 goals, eight assists) in 25 games.