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Stanley Cup Final

Stanley Cup Final between Bruins, Blues adds to Boston-St. Louis lore

Cities have rich history of facing off for championships in four major sports leagues

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / NHL.com Columnist

The last time the St. Louis Blues made the Stanley Cup Final was 1970, when they were swept by the Boston Bruins. The ending is frozen in time in famous photos and a bronze statue outside TD Garden in Boston, Bobby Orr soaring through the air after scoring the Cup-clinching goal in overtime of Game 4.

Now, finally, the Blues get their rematch. They play the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final starting with Game 1 at Boston on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).

"We owe Boston one," said Bob Plager, a defenseman for the Blues from 1967-68, when they entered the NHL, to 1977-78. "They beat us once before."

Ah, but Boston has defeated St. Louis even more than that. The storyline goes much deeper.

The Bruins, the Boston Celtics of the NBA, the Boston Red Sox of MLB and the New England Patriots of the NFL each have won a championship against a St. Louis team. No other city has won a championship in each of the four major sports leagues against the same city.

Boston teams have gone 7-3 against St. Louis teams in championship matchups, including 3-0 in the past two decades.

Overall, Boston teams lead St. Louis teams in championships in the four major sports leagues 39-13, including 12-3 in the past two decades.

 

[RELATED: Complete Bruins vs. Blues coverage | 1970 Cup Final was more than iconic Orr goal]

 

These are two of the great sports towns in America, similar in passion and pride. But look at what one has endured and the other has enjoyed:

Baseball?

St. Louis has 11 World Series titles, the Cardinals winning each. Boston has won 10 -- the Red Sox nine, the Boston Braves one.

In 1946, the Red Sox made the World Series for the first time since 1918 and lost to the Cardinals in seven games. When they finally made it back again in 1967, they lost to the Cardinals in seven games again.

The Curse of the Bambino, hovering over the Red Sox for selling Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees, lasted for 86 years in Boston.

But it was broken against …

St. Louis. The Red Sox swept the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series. They have won three more titles since, including the 2013 World Series against the Cardinals and the last World Series. The Cardinals have won two, in 2006 and 2011.

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Basketball?

The Milwaukee Hawks of the NBA moved to St. Louis in 1955. In five seasons from 1956-57 to 1960-61, they made the NBA Finals four times. Pretty good, eh?

Problem was, they played the Celtics each time. They lost to them in 1957, defeated them in 1958 and then lost to them again in 1960 and 1961. At least they were the only team to defeat Boston in the Finals from 1957-66; the Celtics won nine titles in 10 seasons in that stretch.

Between two more titles for the Celtics in 1968 and 1969, the Hawks moved to Atlanta. The Celtics have won six more titles since then, their most recent in 2008.

Football?

The Los Angeles Rams of the NFL moved to St. Louis in 1995. They went 13-3 in 1999 and won Super Bowl XXXIV. Two years later, they went 14-2 and were favored to win Super Bowl XXXVI.

Problem was, they played the Patriots and a quarterback named Tom Brady. They lost.

Brady and the Patriots defeated the Rams again in Super Bowl LIII at the end of last season, making their ninth Super Bowl appearance in 18 seasons and winning their sixth championship in that span. Except the Rams were the Los Angeles Rams again.

After that loss in Super Bowl XXXVI, the Rams made the playoffs twice in three seasons but won one game. Then they missed the playoffs 12 seasons in a row and moved from St. Louis back to L.A.

Video: 1970 Cup Final, Gm4: Orr scores airborne OT goal

Which brings us to hockey, this series and this opportunity.

The Blues made the Stanley Cup Final in each of their first three seasons. But that was when the NHL doubled to 12 teams, the six new teams had their own division and one of the new teams was guaranteed to make the Final. The Montreal Canadiens swept the Blues in 1968 and 1969. After the Bruins swept them in 1970, the closest they came was the conference final in 1986, 2001 and 2016.

Now here they are representing their city, which is down to two major league teams, against Boston, which has the reigning champions in two major leagues: MLB and the NFL.

The Bruins have won the Stanley Cup six times, most recently in 2011. They are favored to bring more glory to Boston.

The Blues are the underdogs, but they're a Cinderella story, going from last place in the NHL on Jan. 3 to the Stanley Cup Final. Can you imagine if they play their victory anthem, "Gloria," in the end? Against Boston, of all teams?

"It's been a long time," St. Louis defenseman Colton Parayko said. "A lot of work to be done still, and obviously we want to make it the first (Stanley Cup championship) for our city. So we're going to bring our A-game."

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