A Stanley Cup Final rematch 49 years in the making will see the St. Louis Blues vie for their first-ever title against the six-time Cup champion Boston Bruins. The Bruins return to the Final for the third time in the last nine postseasons, while the Blues end a 49-year drought with their first appearance since 1970.
* The Bruins (107 points; No. 3 in NHL) and Blues (99 points; No. 12 in NHL) finished eight points apart in 2018-19. This year marks the fifth Final since 2014 between teams separated by eight or fewer standings points. The only outlier in that span was the 2017 Final between the Penguins and Predators, who were separated by 17 points.
* The Blues are the 10th team to reach the Final after ranking 12th place or lower during the regular season. Six of those instances have come since 2006, including three under the current playoff format.
* This also represents the seventh Final ever between a team from the top three in the NHL standings and a team that ranked 12th or lower. Five of the prior six series required at least six games: 1994 (Game 7), 2002 (Game 5), 2004 (Game 7), 2006 (Game 7), 2010 (Game 6) and 2017 (Game 6).
* St. Louis climbed from last place through games played Jan. 2 to finish 12th in the overall NHL standings after posting the League’s best record from Jan. 3 onward – vying for the Central Division title on the final day of the regular-season. In the weeks since, they have become the first team in the expansion era (since 1967-68) to win a playoff round after ranking last overall at any point after New Year’s Day (min. 20 GP).
* The decisive contest between the Blues and Sharks averaged a Total Audience Delivery of 1.9 million viewers on NBCSN, up 22% versus the last Western Conference Final Game 6 (2017: ANA vs. NSH) and up 29% against the same matchup from 2016 (when San Jose eliminated St. Louis). The Conference Finals closer also delivered NBC Sports’ highest NHL rating on record in the St. Louis market.
LOOKING BACK ON THE FIRST THREE ROUNDS
The 2019 Conference Finals averaged 6.0 goals per game (60 goals in 10 GP), with Boston and St. Louis outscoring their opponents 17-5 and 23-15, respectively. It marked the sixth time in the last 25 years that the Conference Finals averaged at least six goals per game, with the highest such number coming in 2014 (6.62 G/GP; 86 goals in 13 GP).
* St. Louis reached the Final on the strength of strong starts, scoring in the opening five minutes of a game on six occasions – winning each contest including three against San Jose. Overall, there have been 33 goals in the opening five minutes of play this postseason, with the Bruins (4) and Golden Knights (4) sharing second behind the Blues.
* While St. Louis used hot starts to set the tone, Boston boasted a perfect 11-0 mark when leading after two periods in the opening three rounds (St. Louis was 8-1).
* Overall, teams that lead after 40 minutes are 53-9 in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs (8-2 in Conference Finals). St. Louis (2) and Boston (1) are responsible for three of the nine times a team won when trailing after two periods: the Blues rallied in Games 1 and 5 versus the Jets, while the Bruins did so in Game 1 against the Hurricanes.
* The Blues and Bruins reached the Final by making a habit of holding a lead. Boston has been ahead for 49.2% of playing time (516:28 of 1,048:57), while St. Louis has led for 40.8% of the time (480:29 of 1,177:15).
* Boston has trailed for only 9.9% of playing time since the start of the Second Round (62:04 of 628:57) – 48:56 against Columbus and only 13:08 versus Carolina. Similarly, St. Louis held a lead for 65.7% of its series against San Jose (240:06 of 365:23). Neither Finalist trailed over the last three games of the Conference Finals.
SCORING STANDOUTS FROM THE FIRST THREE ROUNDS
Each Stanley Cup Finalist had a different player lead the team in scoring in the first three rounds:
* Bruins scoring leader Brad Marchand collected nine points in seven games against the Maple Leafs (4-5—9), the most points in one round this postseason by any player in the 2019 Final. Marchand was held off the score sheet in Game 3 and 5 against Toronto but recorded three points in Game 4 and 6; he became the first Bruins player since 2011 (Michael Ryder) to bounce back from scoreless outings with at least three points multiple times in a postseason.
* Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo led the Blues with 0-6—6 in six games against the Jets, becoming the second St. Louis defenseman ever to lead his team in scoring in a series victory. Al MacInnis paced the club with 3-6—9 in the team’s seven-game series victory versus the Coyotes in the 1999 Conference Quarterfinals.
* Blues scoring leader Jaden Schwartz tallied six points in the seven-game showdown against the Stars (4-2—6). Schwartz has since become the third player in NHL history to reach the 10-goal mark in the regular season and eclipse his goal total in the ensuing Stanley Cup Playoffs, joining Claude Lemieux (1996-97: 11 G in regular season, 13 G in playoffs) and Marian Gaborik (2013-14: 11 G in regular season, 14 G in playoffs). Skating with the Avalanche and Kings, respectively, Lemieux (45 GP) and Gaborik (41 GP) played significantly fewer regular-season games than Schwartz (69 GP) in those campaigns.
* Bruins forwards David Pastrnak (4-1—5) and David Krejci (2-3—5) collected five points apiece over six games against the Blue Jackets. Pastrnak, who will celebrate his 23rd birthday Saturday, now has 147 career goals (including regular season), the most by a Bruins player before age 23. Ten years his senior, Krejci has continued his consistent postseason play with a point in all but four games in 2019 (4-10—14 in 17 GP).
* Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron (3-2—5) and Marchand (2-3—5) each posted a team-leading five points in their sweep of the Hurricanes. Bergerorn’s 2-1—3 performance in the series-clinching game placed him ahead of Peter McNab on the all-time franchise playoff goals list and within one point of 100 in his Stanley Cup Playoffs career (39-60—99 in 129 GP). Krejci tallied one point in each of game versus Carolina (0-4—4), notching his 100th career playoff point in Game 3 (36-65—101 in 125 GP).
* Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko takes a six-game point streak into the Stanley Cup Final after notching at least one point in every game against the Sharks, pacing all players with 3-5—8. He became the first player in franchise history to find the score sheet in every game of a series that required at least six contests.