By Curtis Zupke
ANAHEIM -- Patrick Maroon almost chuckled when one of the first questions in his media scrum Saturday was about playing with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
It's become a talking point because Maroon has been the mainstay beside the two at left wing for the Anaheim Ducks throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That's notable given how often Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau changes his lines.
What would Maroon have thought at the beginning of the season if someone told him he'd be playing on the top line in May?
"I don't think it's about me playing on the top line," Maroon said. "I think it's Bruce just giving me the opportunity, and I've just got to keep playing the way I'm playing because one bad game can lead me out of the lineup. So for me, I've got to stay focused and keep playing that rugged hockey, grind it down low kind of hockey, get in front of the net, frustrate their defense. Hopefully good things will continue to happen with our line."
Their next chance is Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Calgary Flames on Sunday at Honda Center (10 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN, TVA Sports). The Ducks lead the best-of-7 series, 1-0, after a 6-1 win Thursday.
Maroon does the dirty work in front of the net and looks the part with his bushy beard and 6-foot-2, 231-pound body.
Boudreau said Maroon might not be the best skater but he has good hands, particularly for someone his size. Maroon has all the tools to be an NHL power forward, but it's a matter of performing regularly.
"When you've only been in this League for a little over two years, the consistency sometimes isn't there," Boudreau said. "That's the only thing that's plagued him through the course of the year. When he's on top of his game, he's a big force for us, but he's back on that line because he's been consistent of late and he's been playing the same way. There's no letdown in his game."
Boudreau has tried numerous forwards with Getzlaf and Perry, but none have lasted long. That defies the notion anybody can play with Perry, a Hart Trophy winner and the leading scorer in these playoffs, and Getzlaf, a perennial Hart candidate.
It turns out the ideal player for them is Maroon, a St. Louis product and prolific scorer in a junior and minor-league career that saw him bounce around six cities.
Anaheim needed Maroon's size to counter the Winnipeg Jets in the first round, and it's needed to exploit Calgary's lack of size in the second round. As sexy as it sounds to play with two highly skilled players, Maroon hasn't lost sight of his role.
"For us to be effective like we are, for me, [it's about] just being strong along the boards and in the defensive zone," the 27-year-old said. "I just go to work. I finish my checks. I hold onto to the puck. I have pretty good hands down low, below the top of the circles, and I just go to the front of the net. That creates so much space for those two, me just creating havoc in front, making the goalie frustrated, and especially for their D-man too."