Oct 3, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) gets ready to take a face-off during the third period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Banknorth Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

"Heavy"-weight Battle: Blues and Bruins to clash in Beantown

The last time the St. Louis Blues were in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1970, they were swept away by the Boston Bruins.

The knockout punch came on an overtime goal by Bobby Orr in Game 4, creating one of the most iconic images in NHL history, if not sports history.

Blues fans know the image: Orr, flying through the air after just scoring the game-winning goal, his arms stretched out in his best Superman impression. Objectively speaking, it truly is an awesome picture. However, for Blues fans, its haunts their dreams at night.

Conveniently, as if to rub salt in the wound, Orr will be at TD Garden in Boston on Thursday night to drop the ceremonial opening face-off before the Bruins and Blues do battle. While a Blues victory will not heal the scar of a franchise that has been annually rebuffed by the Stanley Cup since its inception 46 years ago, it will provide a temporary catharsis amidst a season where hopes of achieving the seemingly impossible feat of winning a championship are at an all-time high.

If Thursday’s game were to be promoted on a movie poster, the tagline would read: What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

This truly does describe the feel surrounding the matchup between the Blues and Bruins on multiple levels.

The Blues are off to a franchise-best 14-3-3 start to the season, while the Bruins, winners in six of their last seven games, sit atop the Eastern Conference with 29 points. For those who like to prognosticate on potential Stanley Cup matchups this early in the season, the Bruins and Blues would both be trendy picks at the moment.

Hockey players and coaches love to throw the word “heavy” around to describe a physical team. For the Bruins and Blues, “heavy” is probably the most appropriate adjective there is to describe their respective styles of play.

T.J. Oshie, one of those players who plays a “heavy” game, is obviously looking forward to the challenge:

“I remember in the past, this is probably the most physically checking team that I’ve played,” Oshie said. “It’s not just one guy. It’s everyone and it keeps coming at you, and that’s the style that we like to play. It’s going to be intense and it’s going to be fun.

When two teams with similar skills sets and styles of play meet, it is often the individual matchups that will eventually determine a victor. One such matchup that Blues fans should keep an eye on Thursday will be between David Backes and Patrice Bergeron.

Backes and Bergeron are two of the top two-way forwards in the National Hockey League. Both were Selke Award finalists in 2012, with Bergeron eventually taking home the trophy. With Boston awarded the last change on home ice, expect the Bruins to match up Bergeron against the Blues top line of Alex Steen, Backes and Oshie.

Finally, it looks as if Patrik Berglund will miss his third consecutive game with an upper-body injury on Thursday. Fellow Swede Magnus Paajarvi will once again take his place in the lineup.

Paajarvi scored his first goal of the season and as a member of the Blues during Tuesday night’s 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres.

TONIGHT’S PROJECTED LINEUPs:

BLUES:

Forwards

Alexander Steen-David Backes-T.J. Oshie

Brenden Morrow-Derek Roy-Chris Stewart

Jaden Schwartz-Vladimir Sobotka-Vladimir Tarasenko

Magnus Paajarvi-Maxim Lapierre-Ryan Reaves

Defensemen

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk

Ian Cole-Roman Polak

Goalie

Jaroslav Halak

 

BRUINS:

Forwards

Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla

Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Loui Eriksson

Carl Soderberg-Chris Kelly-Reilly Smith

Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton

Defensemen

Zdeno Chara-Dougie Hamilton

Matt Bartkowski-Johnny Boychuk

Torey Krug-Kevan Miller

Goalie

Tuukka Rask

 

Tags: Alex Steen David Backes Magnus Paajarvi NHL Patrik Berglund St. Louis Blues T.J. Oshie

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