When the St. Louis Blues meet the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals, they will be seeking the first title in franchise history. The Blues joined the NHL as part of the first wave of expansion and the league gerrymandered the divisions so that one of the new teams would be guaranteed a spot in the finals. This disregard for geography (the Philadelphia Flyers were in the Western Conference) paved the way for the Blues to reach the finals in each of the first three years of their existence. In 1968 and 1969 they fell to the Montreal Canadiens, and then in 1970 to the Bobby Orr-led Boston Bruins. It was the last time the Blues appeared in the finals, despite making the playoffs every year from 1980 to 2004. But the Blues are not solely responsible for their hometown’s woes in title bouts against teams from Boston.
Stan Musial and the St Louis Cardinals defeated Ted William and the Boston Red Sox in the 1946 World Series. The Cardinals famously scored the go-ahead run in the 8th inning of Game 7 when Enos Slaughter raced for home on Harry Walker’s double to center. Twenty-one years later, the Cards would vanquish yet another Red Sox team in the 1967 World Series behind an electric performance from MVP Bob Gibson, who pitched three complete games and surrendered just 3 runs. It would be the last time a team from St. Louis would best a team from Boston for a title.
Boston vs. St. Louis
|1946||St. Louis Cardinals||Boston Red Sox|
|1957||Boston Celtics||St. Louis Hawks|
|1958||St. Louis Hawks||Boston Celtics|
|1960||Boston Celtics||St. Louis Hawks|
|1961||Boston Celtics||St. Louis Hawks|
|1967||St. Louis Cardinals||Boston Red Sox|
|1970||Boston Bruins||St. Louis Blues|
|2002||New England Patriots||St. Louis Rams|
|2004||Boston Red Sox||St. Louis Cardinals|
|2013||Boston Red Sox||St. Louis Cardinals|
In between those Cardinals victories, the dearly departed St. Louis Hawks briefly emerged as an NBA powerhouse, making the finals four times in five years. But their timing was suboptimal as their rise coincided with the ascension of one of the greatest dynasties in American sports history in the Bill Russell era Boston Celtics. The two teams would face off in 1957, 1958, 1960 and 1961 finals. The Hawks managing to win just once, in 1958, thanks to a heroic performance from Bob Pettit, who averaged 29.3 points and 17 rebounds over six games. The Hawks would leave for Atlanta without competing for a title again.
At the turn of the twenty-first century, St. Louis would once again see one of their franchises rise to prominence at just the wrong time. During the 1998-99 season, the St. Louis Rams became known as “The Greatest Show on Turf,” thanks to a high-octane offense led by QB Kurt Warner and running back Marshall Faulk. They would go 13-3 and win the Super Bowl that year, then in 2001 went 14-2 and make the Super Bowl again. But this time they ran into another one of the greatest dynasties in American sports history, the Brady/Belichick New England Patriots. The Rams went into the game as 14-point favorites, but lost on a 48-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri as time expired. The Rams would leave town before making it to another Super Bowl, losing just this year to the Patriots yet again.
The Cardinals and Red Sox would meet again in 2004 with very different results. After an 86-year title drought, the Sox became the first team in baseball history to win a playoff series after falling behind 0-3 before defeating the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series. The Sox then promptly won another four in a row to defeat the Cards by an aggregate score of 24-12 and their first title since 1918. Just nine years later, in the 2013 World Series, Boston would again prevail over the Cards, this time getting dismantled almost single-handedly by David Ortiz, who put together a slash line of .688/.760/.1.188 with 7 runs, 2 homers and 6 RBI in six games.
In all four major American sports, the last time a team from St. Louis made the finals, they lost to a team from Boston. Since 1970, teams from St. Louis have gone 0-4 in title matchups with teams from Boston, and overall St. Louis is 3-7 in championship showdowns with teams from Boston. Beantown has been a tough row to hoe for the people of St. Louis.
This time around, rather than a nascent juggernaut, the Blues are catching a veteran Bruins team whose captain is 42, and with two goalies and three of their top four scorers on the wrong side of 30 — this is a Boston team that is likely in its twilight. The Blues, meanwhile, are loaded with young talent. Maybe things can be different this time, though Vegas has its doubts.
Catch the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals starting Monday, May 27, at 8pm ET on NBC