How Pat Maroon’s contagious energy resonates with his new club

The Boston Bruins addressed their physical and net-front needs at the trade deadline. In doing so, they received an added caveat with one of their newcomers.

Jack Edwards apologized for body-shaming Lightning's Pat Maroon

Pat Maroon arrived from Minnesota with three championship rings to his credit during his time with St. Louis and Tampa Bay. But the veteran winger had to wait patiently to make his Bruins debut following back surgery.

Following his recovery, Maroon skated in two of Boston’s final three regular-season games. After using those two games to shake off the proverbial rust, Maroon settled into his fourth-line role. He made an immediate vocal and bruising impact during Saturday’s Game 1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“It’s not an easy thing to do for a guy to come in at the deadline and act like that and have that experience in the room,” Boston captain Brad Marchand said. “But because of experience, he does, and it makes a big difference.”

Marchand and the Bruins have a firsthand postseason account of Maroon’s tone-setting traits. The St. Louis native provided that gritty and physical impact to help his hometown Blues raise the Stanley Cup in 2019. A year later, he was front and center on the Lightning’s bottom six during their second-round victory over the Bruins and subsequent Cup triumphs in the COVID-shortened 2020 and 2021 campaigns.

What he lacks in flash, Maroon makes up for with an effective sandpaper approach. He wasted little time putting his blue-collar traits to work against Toronto.

On his very first shift, Maroon won a puck battle along the walls with Ryan Reaves and Joel Edmundson pinching. Maroon promptly sent his linemates, Jesper Boqvist and Johnny Beecher, into a 2-on-1 to connect on a tone-setting tally just 2:26 in.

“He has a ton of experience which you can draw from, and he’s very comfortable and confident talking in any situation,” Marchand added of Maroon. “Obviously, his phyiscal game on the ice… I don’t think people give him the acknowledgment of his skill as well, especially down low in the offensive zone. But he made a great play on that first goal tonight. He understands the importance of the little plays that can make a difference in the outcome, and when he harps on that, he keeps guys accountable.”

The tight-checking, physical nature of playoff hockey fits Maroon’s skillset to a T. His contagious energy indeed provides a trickle-down effect.

The Bruins and Leafs combined for 103 hits. Maroon received credit for six, including his thunderous blow to Timothy Liljegren that left the Leafs defenseman hovered over the Boston bench.

Vocally, Maroon kept his teammates engaged. In turn, the Bruins continued riding the momentum behind Jeremy Swayman’s stellar outing and a game-changing sequence involving the power play and penalty kill during the middle frame.

“When they’re sticking to you, just gotta calm guys down, relax a bit, because there’s gonna be momentum shifts throughout the period, right?” Maroon said. “So you got to find a way to calm guys down and trying to get back on track and, you know, making some good plays and staying steady and staying composed.”

“When you hear a guy like that speaking, everybody listens,” added defenseman Brandon Carlo, who extended Boston’s lead to 2-0 with his second-period blast. “Everybody takes care of what they’re going to based off of his words just from his experience and his leadership. He’s a great resource for all of us and a great leader as well.”

Amid a transitional season, the Bruins faced the difficult task of replacing some of their significant voices from season’s past.

Two of Boston’s top centermen in franchise history, David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron, announced their retirements. Before that, the cap-strapped Bruins sent Nick Foligno and Taylor Hall to Chicago.

Unlike Foligno during his nine-year stint with the Blue Jackets, Maroon never served as a captain. But the two share similar vocal and physical traits, thus drawing the comparison from Jim Montgomery.

“Well, it’s a lot of emotion that comes our way especially because the crowd gets into it,” the second-year Boston coach said.

“The play he makes, I mean, that’s what he’s good at, you know, is making subtle plays that build the team game. And what he’s really good at is on the bench, and what we’ve noticed is a lot like Nick Foligno — a lot of positive talk, a lot of reinforcement of what the game plan is. But he really grabbed his linemates you know, Boqvist and Beecher, and really [shared] positive reinforcement, and what they’re going to do next shift, not what just happened.”

The 35-year-old Maroon earned the nickname ‘Big Rig’ with his bruising brand of hockey. In Game 1, Maroon led by example, combining an offensive touch with his physical traits.

And unlike the decades of debt accounted by “The Big Dig” project, the Bruins will only benefit from their new ‘Big Rig’ with his veteran presence and championship pedigree.

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