The Stanley Cup Final faces off May 27th and the St. Louis Blues have been waiting patiently for 49 years to exact some revenge on the Boston Bruins. The teams met in the Final back in 1969/70 when the Bruins swept the Blues quite easily in four contests. The fourth game was the closest with Boston’s Hall of Fame blue liner Bobby Orr scoring the winning goal and then celebrating by sailing through the air. The teams met two years after that historic moment with Boston once again winning in four games in the semifinals on their way to another Stanley Cup.
It’s taken the Blues 49 years to reach the Final again after making it in the franchise’s first three seasons from 1967/68 to 1969/70. They are still waiting to hoist their first Stanley Cup and are 0 for 12 in Final series games as they were swept in all three previous appearances. Boston has won two more Stanley Cups since 1970 as they also lifted the trophy in the 1971/72 and 2010/2011 seasons. The Bruins will be hunting their seventh championship overall in their 20th Final appearance.
The Bruins went 49-24-9 during the regular season for 107 points and earned home ice advantage by posting the second-best record in the league, the Eastern Conference and the Atlantic Division. They have beaten the Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets and Carolina Hurricanes in this year’s playoffs in seven, six and four games respectively. They enter the Final with seven straight postseason victories to their name and have gone 8-0 in history against the Blues in the playoffs while outscoring them 48-15. The teams split the season series this year as Boston won at home 5-2 in January and the Blues were 2-1 winners in a shootout in February.
St. Louis earned 99 points in the regular season with a record of 45-28-9 and finished in third place in the Central Division and were the fifth seed in the Western Conference. They had the worst record in the league on January 3rd but then caught fire the rest of the way. Head coach Mike Yeo was relieved of his duties on November 21st and the team’s fortunes started to change about five weeks later under new bench boss Craig Berube, who has been nominated as a finalist for coach of the year this season. The Blues then beat the Winnipeg Jets, Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks in the playoffs in six, seven and six games.
The Bruins have the edge in net, at least on paper as Tuukka Rask leads the league in the postseason in shutouts with two, goals-against average at 1.84 and save percentage at 94.2. The Blues will reply with Jordan Binnington, a 25-year-old rookie who was called up to the team midway through the regular season. His record stood at 24-5-1 in the regular season and he was named one of three finalists as the NHL’s rookie of then year. His numbers are still impressive in the playoffs but not quite as good as the regular season with a GAA of 2.36 to accompany a 91.4 save percentage and a shutout.
The Bruins home record in the postseason is 6-3 and they’re 6-2 on the road. The Blues are 5-5 at home and 7-2 on their travels. Boston’s goals-per game average stands at 3.35 in the postseason with a GAA of 1.94. St. Louis is scoring 3.00 goals per game on average with a 2.52 GAA. The Bruins’ power-play has been the best in the postseason at 34 per cent with an 86.3 per cent penalty-killing efficiency. The Blues are 19.3 per cent with the man advantage and have killed off 78 per cent of their penalties.
Individually, the Bruins’ top performers have been Brad Marchand (7 goals, 11 assists), David Pastrnak (7 goals, 8 assists), David Krejci (4 goals, 10 assists), Patrice Bergeron (5 goals, 8 assists), Charlie Coyle (6 goals, 6 assists) and defenseman Torey Krug (1 goal, 11 assists). Over in St. Louis, the top scorers are Jaden Schwartz (12 goals and 4 assists), Ryan O’Reilly (3 goals, 11 assists), Vladimir Tarasenko (8 goals, 5 assists), David Perron (six goals, 7 assists) and defensemen Alex Pietrangelo (2 goals, 11 assists) and Colton Parayko (1 goal, 10 assists).