The St. Louis Blues haven’t even played 15 games yet and fans are restless with the local Big Rig, Pat Maroon.
The Oakville product hasn’t scored 20 goals, led the Blues to an unbeaten record, and whipped up a fabulous deep dish pizza for fans inside a month yet, so he isn’t doing his job apparently. I have already heard and read, “Maroon is a bust!” People expect the guy to put on the Blue Note and just become an international superstar. It doesn’t work that way. Let me explain why ahead of tonight’s game against the Minnesota Mild.
First, Maroon has never played with any of these players, and that takes time in adjusting to the tendencies of certain players and what they do on the ice. There are times where these Blues have looked like a group of misfits on the ice, so the adjustment period is still in motion. Let Maroon settle in with his linemates for a stretch, and he will get it going.
Secondly, the man was never a goal-scoring machine. Name more than one season where he scored at a high rate. Maroon has topped 20 goals in one season, so stop with the “where are the goals” chants. It’s embarrassing. Maroon isn’t going to throw 20-25 goals in the net every year, so the expectations need to settle.
Third, there are a lot of ways to make an impact on the ice. Maroon is creating space for wing mates like Vladimir Tarasenko, clearing players out of the important spots on the ice, and giving others a chance to thrive. Remember Maroon screening Corey Crawford completely on that Tarasenko wrist shot a week ago? Sweet action. That’s the Maroon effect. He’s out there to push people around, use those soft hands on puck movement, and make life easier for the high-skill players.
Fourth, Maroon is quietly on pace for the highest point total of his career. I’m talking about 48 points, which would top the 42 he scored in the 2016-17 season. That’s due to the fact that Maroon is setting up his teammates with pristine passes, and working out of an office from behind the net. He has seven assists and a lot of those come from Maroon finding the open guy after drawing bodies towards him. He’s a hard ass worker out there who clears space. If he truly stunk, the guy would have zero points, zero shots on goal, and no facial hair.
The goals will come. Don’t worry. It’s still early and Maroon has gotten close to at least 3-4 tallies. He had an open net last week and just missed. Other times there has been a deflection in front of the net that almost went off his stick. When the lines are cemented and the players find a rhythm, Maroon will start scooping up rebounds and flipping biscuits into the net on a regular basis. I can see him having 4-5 by the time we are eating Thanksgiving turkey and listening to Frank Sinatra Christmas tunes. Trust me on that.
When Maroon signed here, he took a chance and brought on a lot of pressure with a one-year deal. There was more money elsewhere, including out West and back in New Jersey. Probably more than a solo season term as well. He could have went back to a place with lower expectations, scored 10-15, did his thing, and looked good doing so. Instead, he chose family and the chance to do something special instead by coming home. Being closer to his wife and son, and playing in front of Blues fans.
With that choice, a fair amount of pressure comes along with it. Maroon is skating around a boulder on his shoulders, waiting for the first goal as much as you are. He’s trying, hustling, getting close, and coming up short. When he breaks through, more goals will surely follow.
Being 6 foot 3 inches and 225 pounds may give you an edge on the ice, but it doesn’t protect you from the anxiety of wanting to please your hometown fans.
Just know this. Maroon has spent seven-plus years in this league. He knows how to score. Just give him time.
More than likely, he will score tonight, or at least on this home stand. All will be well.
The only thing I am truly disappointed with when it comes to Pat is that he shaved his beard before opening night. That’s all. Thankfully, it came back.
So will his goal-scoring touch.