BOSTON – Pat Maroon is used to being in the mix.

Watching from afar is not his forte, especially when the intensity picks up and the Stanley Cup Playoffs inch closer.

As such, watching on television from his home in Boston as the Bruins battled Atlantic Division rivals Florida and Tampa last week had the injured forward raring to get back into game action.

“Trust me, I'm really excited. I can't wait, especially watching the Florida and Tampa game,” said Maroon. “Makes you just want to go out there and battle for the boys…I’m really looking forward to it. I think I mentioned it before, but just putting on that practice jersey – Original Six team…this is a team that a lot of people want to play for.

“I’m just excited to get with the guys, get in the lineup with them, go to battle with them. We have a great group here, great group of guys, we're a good hockey team. I want to be a part of it as soon as possible.”

Maroon could be a part of it sooner than later as the 35-year-old made his Bruins practice debut on Monday at Warrior Ice Arena as the club prepared for its two-game trip to Nashville and Carolina this week.

“I felt good. Kind of been lonely by myself, skating by myself, so it feels good to be back with the guys, get in some battle drills, and try to get up to speed with those guys…I’m close…it's a good start when you're practicing with the team,” said Maroon, who has missed the last 12 weeks since undergoing back surgery.

Coach Jim Montgomery said that while he can’t say “definitively, yes,” that Maroon will get into game action before the postseason, it appears that the hulking winger is aiming for a return sometime next week.

“He is making the steps to get closer. When he first got here, we said we knew it was going to be a couple of weeks. Now he really is week-to-week. As he hits more of the steps and milestones, he’ll become day to day,” said Montgomery, who added that the B’s visit to Pittsburgh on April 13 could be the target date.

“Next week sometime, that'd be my guess. There's no target date,” added Maroon, who had 16 points (4 goals, 12 assists) in 49 games with the Wild this season. “But get through this week of practices, couple practices next week, and then I’ll hopefully get a game in. But again, the staff has a plan for me, and we're just going to stick with it. They have a timeline for me. But as a player my goal is next week sometime.”

Maroon said that after being out of game action for roughly three months, getting his conditioning back up to speed is his top priority.

“I mean, I've been out for almost 12 weeks, so I think just getting your conditioning back, get up to speed with the group, get some line rushes, get some touches,” said Maroon. “Because it's a completely different game when you're just skating by yourself, and then you're going into battles, and doing those other things.

“Just have to stay up to par with that, get up to speed with them, and hopefully I'll be back soon.”

Maroon talks after practice on Monday at WIA

The three-time Stanley Cup champion acknowledged that he’d like to get into at least a few games before the playoffs, while complimenting the Bruins medical staff for their work in getting him back on the ice since he arrived from Minnesota early last month.

“I would like to play a couple of games, for sure,” said Maroon. “I think that's the end goal, is to play a couple of games before the playoffs. They've been really good with me. I can't thank enough the staff here. They've been really patient with me and doing all of the right things to make sure I'm 100 percent and I'm back to where I finished off.

“They've been really good, they have a plan for me, and we're just going to keep sticking with that and progress each day.”

While he hasn’t had the opportunity to spend as much time around his new teammates as he’d like due to his rehab schedule and the amount the Bruins have been on the road of late, Maroon has been able to observe just how tight of a dressing room he is now a part of.

“It's going to be nice to, obviously, be around the guys now, pick each other's brains here a bit. [Kevin Shattenkirk] already talked very highly of it before on the phone when I got traded here,” Maroon said of his former Lightning teammate. “A good group of guys, an opportunity to win here, guys that want to win, and a good leadership group in here, too. We have the foundation, now we just have to go out there and put it on the ice, right?

“There's a reason why we're on top of the standings where we are.”

Maroon added that while he has long been a rival of the Bruins on the ice, he has been treated well during the time he’s spent around the city in recent weeks.

“A lot of fans have been very supportive, so it's been nice to have the fans support me and be a part of it,” said Maroon. “Like everyone said, I'm just as excited as all of the fans are to go out there and go to battle with these guys.”

Wait, There’s More

  • David Pastrnak missed Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena for a maintenance day.
  • Montgomery said that pairing Hampus Lindholm and Charlie McAvoy together, as he did on Saturday in Washington, will be matchup dependent. “Depending on what the other team has. I mean, if the other team has one dominant line, and we’re at home and we can match them up against them, yeah, we're going to do it,” said Montgomery. “The pros are you have two physical, high-end players that can physically match up against the other team's best players, that can skate with the other team's best players, that can think or outthink the other team's best players.”

Montgomery talks after Bruins practice at WIA