Nick Goss

Pat Maroon makes kind of impact Bruins imagined after trading for him

There's a lot of value in playoff experience.

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BOSTON -- What's the ideal Pat Maroon performance in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs? Probably something very similar to what we saw from the veteran forward in Game 1 of Boston's first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden.

Maroon, acquired from the Minnesota Wild on trade deadline day in March, helped his team set the tone right from the start.

The first goal was always going to be important in this kind of game, especially for a Leafs team that didn't lead the Bruins for a single second in any of the four regular season meetings.

Maroon helped the B's get on the scoreboard early by picking up an assist on John Beecher's first career playoff goal. Maroon took two Leafs players out of the play by winning an important puck battle along the boards, helping spring a 2-on-1 rush up ice.

The Bruins kept pouring it on from there, scoring three times in the second period en route to an impressive 5-1 win.

The fourth line of Maroon, Beecher and Jesper Boqvist didn't just score a goal in the opening period, it also combined for five hits, three of which came from Maroon. He finished with a team-high six hits in 11:28 of ice time. The most notable one resulted in Leafs defenseman Timothy Liljegren being sent into the Bruins' bench.

Maroon's impact isn't just felt on the ice. His leadership on the bench and in the locker room, as well as his playoff experience, is very valuable to this Bruins team.

Saturday night was the 151st postseason game of Maroon's career, which is the most of any player on the Bruins roster. He won three consecutive Stanley Cup titles with the Blues (2018-19) and Lightning (2019-20, 2020-21). He understands what kind of hockey works this time of the year and how to help his teammates reach that level.

His line consisted of a rookie making his playoff debut in Beecher, and a guy playing in just his seventh career playoff game in Boqvist. Maroon took on the role of helping these young players navigate the ups-and-down of an intense postseason matchup.

"What he's really good at is on the bench, what we've noticed is it's a lot like Nick Foligno, a lot of positive talk, a lot of reinforcement of what the gameplan is," Montgomery said of Maroon. "But he really grabs his linemates, Boqvist and Beecher, and gives really positive reinforcement of what they're going to do the next shift, not what just happened."

Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo made a similar observation in the locker room postgame.

β€œI was thinking about that throughout the game. When you hear a guy like that speaking, everybody listens," Carlo said. "Everyone takes care of what they're going to (do) 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."

The Bruins needed to get a little tougher this season. They were pushed around a bit by the Florida Panthers in last year's first-round playoff series defeat. Maroon is a guy who will finish every check, fight for puck possession in the tough areas of the ice and even provide some scoring production. His offensive skill is a little underrated.

The addition of Maroon at the trade deadline didn't make a ton of headlines. He's not a top-six forward or a top-four defenseman, which were the Bruins' two most glaring needs at the time.

But there's a lot of value in adding someone to your team who consistently plays the right way, reinforces the coach's message and has immediate buy-in from the players because he's won the ultimate prize three times.

Game 1 was a prime example of that.

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