The stage is set for the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final between the St. Louis Blue and Boston Bruins.
The Blues, who finished third in the Central Division, topped the San Jose Sharks in six games in the Western Conference Final. The Bruins, who were second in the Atlantic Division, swept the Carolina Hurricanes with ease in the Eastern Conference Final and have won seven straight playoff games heading into the Game 1 matchup, which is scheduled for Monday at 8 p.m. in Boston.
Here is what you need to know about the two teams vying for the Stanley Cup:
The Bruins and Blues have played each other in the finals before back in 1970. Boston swept St. Louis — which was in its third year as an expansion team — that year.
The series is remembered best for Bobby Orr’s game-winning overtime goal in Game 4, in which Orr dove forward onto the ice after scoring, a shot that has been immortalized in Boston with a statue outside the TD Garden Arena.
St. Louis Drought
The Blues have not returned to a Stanley Cup Final since losing to the Bruins in 1970 and have not won the Cup at all since becoming a franchise in the 1967-68 season. The 51-year championship drought ties the Blues with the Toronto Maple Leafs for the longest in the NHL.
Meanwhile, the Bruins embark on their franchise’s 20th Stanley Cup Final in search of its seventh championship, with the last one coming in 2011.
The Blues’ biggest celebrity fan may be Jon Hamm, but he is going to have to take a back seat at the Stanley Cup Final to Jenna Fischer. Fischer, who played Pam Beesly in NBC’s The Office, will be cheering on her team while her sitcom husband, Jon Krasinski roots for his beloved Bruins.
The showdown between The Office couple is already generating plenty of buzz on social media:
The Bruins have home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1990. They are 6-3 at home in the postseason and goaltender Tuukka Rask posted a 2.32 goals against average in Boston during the regular season.
The Blues are a pretty solid road team, though. They are 7-2 away from St. Louis this postseason and were 21-13-7 on the road in the regular season.
Worst to First?
Since the expansion era (1967-68), a team has gone from last place after its 20th game of the season to playing in the Stanley Cup Final just twice. Both those times it was the St. Louis Blues.
The Blues were 15-18-4 on Jan. 2, dead last in the Western Conference but turned things around to go 42-17-5 (including playoffs), fueled by the play of first-year goalie Jordan Binnington, to put them in a position to win the Stanley Cup. Binnington led the NHL with a 1.93 goals against average and had the fourth-best save percentage (.927) in the league.
Obviously, no team has ever won the Cup after such a turnaround, but the Blues could be poised to make history.