(Photo Credit: Mark Humphrey / Associated Press)
Patrick Maroon. St. Louis native. Big boy. Big Rig. You don’t move him unless he lets you move him. Creates time and space in front of the net. All around excited to be playing for the team he grew up idolizing as a child. Maroon is many things, and all of them good for the city of St. Louis. Already, as of preseason play, he has scored twice, and caused havoc, with Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko to rely on. That line will do the USA, Canada and Russia proud with what they can do together.
Who benefits from Maroon the most? If we could put names to the “Maroon 5”, which five players would reap the best of the Big Rig? Two are clearly no surprise, but the other three? Well, see for yourself.
Let’s look at the band.
- HE WILL BE LOVED – JAKE ALLEN
Allen did not have the best year last year. In fact, by the end of it, half of St. Louis was ready to trade him, and the other half wished he just played better so we could keep him. Regardless of where someone fell on the Jake Allen line, most can agree that between December and February, Allen struggled between the pipes. Is it a coincidence that in December, Jaden Schwartz also went down with an ankle injury, and our offense fell apart? No. That was the number one problem to last year’s squad: though the team looked decent on paper, most of the scoring hinged on a single line of Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko and Brayden Schenn. Once one of those players went down, there was no depth to bring up to compensate.
Can Maroon score? Yes, he can. In the 2016-2017 season, Maroon scored 27 goals. Last year, he scored 17. In the preseason, he parked himself in front of the net and grabbed garbage goals easily. Not to discredit any improvements that Allen makes this season, but if the team scores more and earns the win, the save percentage for a goalie can be anything it wants to be, high or low. It won’t necessarily matter, because at the end of the regular season, it’s all about wins. During the season, that’s what you want. By the time save percentage would become a factor, it would be in the playoffs; then, you want to pay attention, but ultimately, all that matters during the season is points in the standings. Maroon will help the offense, which will in turn give Allen confidence with the defense, and win him games. In the end, it’s a win-win.
- HELP ME OUT – VLADIMIR TARASENKO
If you park a big, muscular guy in front of a net to cause chaos for a goalie, who better to benefit from that than Tarasenko? Suddenly, the opposing team has two problems instead of one: silence the Russian Sniper, and move an Immoveable Object, and make sure the goalie can see any shots from the point. Before, it was easy to target Tarasenko because you knew what he was going to do, there was no one with enough mass to screen the goalie as effectively as Maroon can, and there was no additional challenge. Not so now. Thanks to Maroon and any chemistry he can create with Tarasenko, creating time and space will open up the floodgates to a Russian volley unlike the Blues have seen thus far. Tarasenko’s production in both goals and assists will skyrocket, especially when combined with a brilliant playmaker like Ryan O’Reilly. Set up, put up, shut up: these three will be dynamic.
- THREE LITTLE BIRDS – ALEXANDER STEEN
With a top screener in front of the net, what better way to take the pressure off of Steen than to shuffle some job duties to Maroon? Steen, now with the ability to fall back into a third line role and thrive in it, doesn’t have to worry about some of the nitty gritty he had to worry about last year. He doesn’t need to play as many minutes as he did before, saving himself for penalty kill or powerplay; he doesn’t have to screen the goalie as much; yet, he’s still able to contribute in the goals and assists category, especially with new center Tyler Bozak. Still a leader, still (as of the writing of this article) an alternate captain, still someone who has longevity in the league, Steen can focus on teaching the younger generation, leading by example, and settling into a pace that may be better on his body than one he may struggle to keep up with.
- MOVES LIKE JAGGER – DIMITRIJ JASKIN
I know what you’re thinking. Huh? Jaskin? What can that guy learn from Maroon?
Glad you asked. Here’s why: because Jaskin and Maroon work the same way. Think I’m crazy? Maybe. Let’s see.
Last year, in 74 games, Maroon, 30 years old, recorded 17 goals, 26 assists, for 43 points, on 141 shots. He was a +1, and recorded 73 penalty minutes. His average time on ice was 16:32. He had 14 blocks, 150 hits, 22 takeaways and 37 giveaways.
Jaskin, 25 years old, in 76 games, recorded 6 goals and 11 assists for 17 points, on 124 shots. He was a +6. He recorded 14 penalty minutes. His average time on ice was 12:27. He blocked 46 shots, recorded 207 hits, had 26 takeaways, and 17 giveaways.
Both Maroon and Jaskin make minute plays, tiny adjustments, to augment the players they play around. Having Maroon on the team is someone that Jaskin will look up to, especially with Maroon’s ability to be unmovable in front of the net, and his ability to make plays while he’s there. Yes, Maroon’s point totals are closer to the 40’s than Jaskin’s point totals. However, if Jaskin observes how Maroon works and incorporates Maroon’s net-work with his own ability to hit and create turnovers, Jaskin will be more effective, more productive, and more of a threat than he ever has been before… all while recording few penalty minutes.
- ANIMALS – COLTON PARAYKO
Parayko is another interesting choice for a bandmate. Maroon makes the best of Parayko by allowing Parayko to use that bomb shot of his more effectively. Like Tarasenko, Parayko has a laser beam of a shot, once clocked at over 100mph at the International Hockey World Championships in May 2018. According to many Blues beat writers, he’s worked on his shot accuracy this past summer, and his willingness to shoot. Having Maroon in front of the net, causing chaos, will give Parayko’s long-range attempts more of a chance of going in, or popping out for rebounds. Also, Maroon could give Parayko the ability to move up and join the fray if he wishes; what’s worse, having to move one big man in front of the net, or two? It’s an opposing team’s nightmare.
Maroon will unleash Parayko to be who he needs to be.
There are no negatives when the Blues signed Pat Maroon. None. Not a single one. And not only will he play with some of the most elite players, he will augment them, and push previous players on the roster to be their best selves. He’ll relieve a few pressures from key leaders. Signing Maroon was one of the best things to happen, and will pay dividends. It’s enough to hope for a Cup; and a fantastic season awaits.