NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Carolina Hurricanes at Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins great Bobby Orr watches Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Bruins and Hurricanes on May 9.

THE GATEWAY ARCH stands 630 feet in St. Louis, representing the gateway to the west in honor of Lewis and Clark.

For Boston sports, the arch represents something entirely different.


It started way back in 1957, when the Celtics won their first NBA title by defeating the St. Louis Hawks.

It continued in 1970, when Bobby Orr flew through the air to finish off a four-game Stanley Cup finals sweep of the St. Louis Blues. It was the Bruins’ first title since 1939.

Then it was the Patriots, winning the first of their current run of six NFL titles by upsetting the St. Louis Rams.

Then came 2004, when the Red Sox, after completing their miracle sweep of the Yankees after going down 0-3, ended their 86-year World Series drought by defeating the St. Louis Cardinals.

Oh, and 2013 saw the Red Sox clinch their third title in 10 years but the first at Fenway Park — against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Sure, this isn’t perfect. There was Pesky allegedly holding the ball in the 1946 World Series against the Cards. And Bob Gibson ended the Impossible Dream season in 1967.

But, heck, even the last Patriots Super Bowl win came over the Los Angeles Rams, who moved from … St. Louis.

Now, it’s the Blues again, starting Monday night at TD Garden.

Almost forgot: on April 30, 1956, Red Auerbach traded Cliff Hagan and Easy Ed McCauley for someone named Bill Russell, the deal with the St. Louis Hawks.

They can play

The Blues, dead last in the NHL in early January and favored to trade off important parts at the trade deadline, have roared all the way to the franchise’s first final since 1970.

The Blues, in the NHL’s Second Six back then, won the new division three straight years to start their NHL run, losing twice to the Canadiens before falling to the B’s in a mismatch of a matchup.

This is NOT a mismatch. The Blues didn’t win an expansion division to get to the final. They have ridden a rookie goalie and a coaching change all the way to within four wins of their first Cup.

The Bruins have to be the favorites for another Cup. But the Blues are better than the Hurricanes. They’re better than the Blue Jackets. But the Bruins are better than the Blues.

Moving their game

With the Red Sox game against the Indians next Wednesday night lining up directly with Game 2 of the Bruins-Blues, the Sox moved their game up an hour, to 6. Not sure what that does given the length of baseball games but the Red Sox will be showing Bruins highlights, with the hockey game starting after 8.

The way some baseball games go, they’re liable to be in the sixth inning at Fenway.

This space was devoted Tuesday to the local baseball team’s late-inning/no closer problem. It didn’t take long for just that to rear its ugly head. More than once in the same game on Wednesday. The Jays tied it in the ninth, Mookie Betts homered in the 12th inning, Toronto tied it again, and Michael Chavis homered in the 13th for the win.

From @SoxNotes: “Tonight, Mookie Betts broke a 4-4 tie in the 12th inning and Michael Chavis broke a 5-5 tie in the 13th. The last time the Sox hit multiple go-ahead HR in extra innings of the same game was Apr. 29, 1951 at Philadelphia (Dom DiMaggio-11th, Tom Wright-12th).”

Earlier in the game, Rafael Devers homered for the third straight game. The third baseman became the sixth Sox player to homer in three straight games at age 22 or younger. The others? Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Rico Petrocelli and Jim Tabor.

Special chance

David Backes used to be the captain of the Blues. Now, he seeks his first Cup — against them. His teammates know how long he’s been at this and what he’s given to the game.

“I’m quick to remind them you can play 13 years in this league and never make it to the Stanley Cup finals,” Backes says. “We’re blessed to be in this position. Each and every guy should take this as potentially their only time.

“I try to remind those young guys, ‘I appreciate you thinking of me, but think of yourself as well and think of the guy to your left and right.’ You can be 21 and thinking the finals are a common thing every other year. This is a rarity. We need to take the opportunity and make the most of it. … It took me 13 years in the league to get here. Now we’re here and we’re going to make the most of this.”

Kyrie is honored

There has been a lot of negativity surrounding Kyrie Irving since the Celtics were unceremoniously dumped from the NBA playoffs. But Thursday, Irving was named second team All-NBA.

The news came a day after Marcus Smart made the league’s All-Defensive team, a tribute to both his consistent defense and probably even for his cutting down on the flopping.

Some in Celtics Nation shouted Al Horford should have been rewarded for his defense. But there are plenty of good defenders in the Association.

He’s not coming

Amid the talk Kyle Rudolph could be on his way to New England to be Rob Gronkowski’s replacement, word out of Minnesota says the tight end is talking long-term extension with the Vikings. This makes more sense.

The extension would reduce Rudolph’s cap number, which is why there was release talk in the first place. His coach, Mike Zimmer, said he expects Rudolph, who has shown up for OTAs, to be with the team, “Because both sides are working towards it and he’s under contract.”


Finally, Bill Belichick on the opening of OTAs Thursday: “Alright, so it’s good to get out on the field. Obviously, it’s been a productive spring for us, a productive week. We were able to do some down-and-distance work here, work in the red area so that was good and we’ll just keep moving on next week.

“Obviously, want to wish the Bruins well in their Stanley Cup final, proud of what they’re doing and wish them the very best in this next series. I know they’ve played great but this will be a great opportunity for them and we’ll be here cheering them on. But back to football, we’ve got a long way to go but we’re just grinding it out here one day at a time and we’ll see how it goes.”

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.