The St. Louis Blues set out to make their team younger and faster when they retooled in the last few offseasons. Pat Maroon is proving that you still need those intangibles when the postseason rolls around.
When the St. Louis Blues added Pat Maroon in the summer of 2018, it came with mixed emotions. There was the heartwarming side of it, allowing Maroon to spend more time with his family and, most importantly, his son.
From the hockey side of it, most fans were of two minds. Some thought he would fit in right away, providing some size and strength as well as having proven he could fit in with top lines in Anaheim and Edmonton. Others worried his lack of speed would hinder the transition the team had been trying to make over the last few years.
Reality always seems stranger than fiction or, in this case, the scenarios we work out in our heads. Like the Blues, things could not have gone much worse for Maroon at the start of this season.
Maroon had an OK October. Despite not scoring a goal, he had six points in the month. It was November that was really bad to the hometown guy.
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Though he scored his first goal as a Blues member, he only managed two points. He was bounced around from line to line, trying to find his spot and saw his ice time slashed almost in half.
It was when the calendar turned to 2019 that Maroon found himself and his place on this team. His physical play picked up as there were only seven games in 2019 that Maroon did not register a hit in. Most featured plenty of hits, like the six he had against Washington.
Getting offense from Maroon would have been great and I believe he can be better than the 10 goals and 28 points he provided. That’s not what the Blues needed from him then or need from him now. They need exactly what they are getting from him.
Anyone who has watched the games against Winnipeg knows that Maroon’s mouth might not have stopped moving the entire time. He is constantly chirping at someone.
What is more, Maroon has done all that barking while keeping his head on his shoulders. He has zero penalty minutes in this game, meaning he is doing his best to get in opponents’ heads and under their skin and not letting them into his.
Just as important is the presence he brings. The Blues are kind of one of those in between teams.
They are not as big as Winnipeg. They are not as fast as many other teams in the league.
Thus, they need a good mix of both. Guys like Vladimir Tarasenko or Robby Fabbri or David Perron can provide the speed and skill. The Blues need, and are getting, Maroon to be the dirty guy around the net.
I do not mean dirty as in dirty player, though I’m sure Jets fans are not pleased with some of Maroon’s dealings. I mean he needs to be the one mucking it up in front of net, creating distractions/screens and banging away for rebounds.
The task falls to Maroon when he is on the ice and he has proven good at it. In fact, he should have several goals in this series, if not for some keen saves against him.
The Blues need Maroon for this series and all the series we hope will come. He’s not a fighter, but he provides the grit that someone like Ryan Reaves used to give. He can also provide offense that you do not get from fourth liners.
Maroon might not end up being the difference in this series, but he is the difference in the Blues getting wrecked physically or not. He is just the player they needed for this series and beyond. Whether he sticks around past this playoff run is another matter.