Mitch's Sports Report: Bruins And Blues To Meet In Stanley Cup Finals For First Time Since 1970
The Stanley Cup finals are set, and it will feature two teams who last vied against each other for the greatest trophy in sports 49 years ago in a series that produced the most iconic photograph in NHL history.
The St. Louis Blues joined the league in 1967 and three years later would appear in their first and until now only Stanley Cup final when they took on the 1970 edition of the Boston Bruins, a team at the height of its powers and led by the greatest defenseman of all time, Bobby Orr.
The Bruins won that series in a four game sweep, capped off by Orr's goal in the opening minute of overtime in game four. He was tripped by a Blues defenseman while scoring that goal, which sent him flying through the air, raising his arms in triumph in a scene captured in a famous photograph that came to be known as the "Flying Orr" and has been further immortalized with a statue outside TD Garden in Boston.
The Blues now hope to secure the franchise's first ever Stanley Cup after beating the San Jose Sharks 5-1 last night to win the western conference finals in six games, earning them a second shot at the Bruins nearly half a century after that first meeting.
There are myriad storylines that make this a really compelling series. Boston winger David Backes is seeking his first Stanley Cup championship after being the face of the team he'll be competing against for more than a decade.
Backes was a fan favorite in St. Louis and has mostly struggled since coming to the Bruins, a veteran finding it sometimes difficult to keep up with the speed of many younger players, but he's found his game in the playoffs recently and has been an important part of the Bruins march to the finals, contributing some important goals along the way.
And the Blues this season are true underdogs who back in January were in dead last place, but revived themselves after changing coaches to ex-player Craig Berube and inserting rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington in between the pipes. They went on a tear and haven't looked back since. Game one is in Boston Monday night, and it's a tough series to pick, but I'm going with the Bruins in seven, based on the expectation that goalie Tuukka Rask will be as good in net for Boston as he's been to this point.
In the NBA playoffs the Toronto Raptors have come back to even the eastern conference finals with two straight wins against the Milwaukee Bucks, including last night's 120-102 win in Toronto. Kyle Lowry led the way with 25 points on a night when Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard was still fatigued from carrying his team to an overtime victory in game three. Marc Gasol added 17 points and a team high seven assists.
Toronto's baseball team was also a winner, beating the Boston Red Sox 10-3 at the Rogers Centre. The Red Sox had a chance early to jump all over Toronto starter Marcus Stroman, who issued six walks but gave up just one run as the Sox failed to capitalize on a number of early chances, including a bases loaded, one out scenario in the second.
Rowdy Tellez hit two home runs to power the Blue Jays offense and Eduardo Rodriguez took the loss, giving up six runs on six hits.
The NY Yankees have no trouble hitting home runs, especially when playing the Baltimore Orioles, who set an unwanted record by yielding 100 home runs faster than any team in history in their 11-4 loss at Camden Yards last night.
The 100th dinger came off the bat of Clint Frazier in the fifth, one of his two homers on the night, and Orioles pitchers are on pace to destroy the record for most home runs given up in a season by the 2016 Cincinnati Reds. Domingo German cruised to the win with all that run support and is now 9-1 on the season.
The NY Mets needed a big home run to get their second straight win, and rookie Pete Alonso delivered it, his 16th of the season already. The shot came in the eighth inning and helped the Mets to a 6-5 win over the Washington Nationals. Mets starter Zack Wheeler gave up three runs and four hits in seven innings and Edwin Diaz picked up the save.