(Stanley Cup) Boston Bruins in third finals, favored in seriesSports | 22 May 2019 12:01 pm
Seeing the famous photo of Bobby Orr scoring the 1970 Stanley Cup-winning goal to beat his St. Louis Blues doesn’t bring back bad memories for Scotty Bowman.
“Not really,” the legendary coach said. “Because we didn’t have a big opportunity to win that series.”
Orr and the big, bad Boston Bruins swept Bowman’s overmatched, expansion-era Blues in that series. Now 49 years later, Boston are in a third final in nine seasons and St. Louis are back for the first time since 1970, but this Bruins-Blues rematch is a showdown between two of the NHL’s best teams since Janaury 1.
“Now it’s more level,” Bowman said. ”(The Blues) don’t give a lot of room in their end, and of course their goalie’s been lights out.”
Coming off a sweep of Carolina in the Eastern Conference final, the Bruins are favored in the series that begins Monday in Boston. Goaltender Tuukka Rask is the front-runner to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. Brad Marchand is playing some of the best hockey of his career with 18 points in 17 games, and there’s a mix of veterans from the 2011 Stanley Cup-winning team and fresh players eager to get their names etched on the trophy.
Unlike in 1970, when the Bruins essentially just had to step on the ice to take the final, these Blues won’t go away. They woke up last in the league Jan. 3 before winning 30 of their final 45 games to roll into the playoffs, where they beat the Winnipeg Jets, Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks.
The Blues and Bruins are among the most disciplined teams in the playoffs, which has helped them reach this point. Now they’ll have to deal with another issue: idle hands with so much time off.
Boston will have a week and a half between finishing off Carolina and game 1, and even St. Louis will go six days without playing. Bowman during his coaching career recalled making his players scrimmage at night to keep them in a rhythm, but there’s no real substitute for the grind of the playoffs.-AP