WILMINGTON — Two months ago, when the lockout ended, Jordan Caron was not among the players summoned to Boston for the start of the season.
Caron was sidelined with a shoulder injury. But even if healthy, Caron might not have been deserving of a recall. Save from a three-goal game on Oct. 19, 2012, Caron had not made the most of his stint in Providence.
“I wanted to do well, obviously,” Caron said. “But things weren’t going in. I was maybe squeezing my stick a little too much. Things weren’t going in. When that happens, you start thinking a lot on the ice. You stop skating. That’s not the right thing to do.”
The Bruins are banking that Caron’s recent stretch — the third-year pro has goals in his last two games — will continue with the big club. The Bruins recalled Caron prior to Friday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena, and he practiced on the third line with Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley, and Jay Pandolfo. Caron replaced Chris Bourque, who cleared waivers on Friday and was assigned to Providence.
It’s possible Caron could make his season debut in Saturday’s matinee against Philadelphia at TD Garden.
“The team is doing well right now,” Caron said. “I just want to come up here, contribute, play my game, be good defensively, and try to produce offensively, too.”
The Bruins drafted Caron in the first round in 2009. The organization projected him as a second- or third-line wing who could grind offensively along the boards and in front of the net. Caron also has a reputation for being dependable defensively.
As a pro, Caron has yet to uncover a consistent offensive touch. In 48 varsity games last season, Caron had seven goals and eight assists. Caron was a healthy scratch for five of the team’s seven postseason games against Washington. Too often, Caron played a conservative offensive game instead of working aggressively in the danger areas.
When the lockout began and Providence began play, management instructed the 6-foot-2-inch, 202-pound Caron to hone his big-boy game. They weren’t as concerned with Caron’s production as with the nature of his work — taking punishment in front of the net, tipping pucks, scrambling to tuck in garbage around the cage.
Recently, Caron’s game picked up. His linemates played a factor.
There is nothing subtle about the manner in which Christian Hanson and Bobby Robins play hockey. They are north-south grinders. They run over players who get in their way. Before Lane MacDermid was recalled to Boston, the left wing played alongside Hanson and Robins.
Caron, filling MacDermid’s former position, recognized that a simple game can lead to results.
“It got me back to the basics,” Caron said. “Not thinking, just play.”
The Bruins are seeking stability from their third line. Bourque, Kelly, and Peverley have struggled to find offensive presence. But they’ve also had difficulty defensively, which is uncharacteristic of Kelly and Peverley.
In Thursday’s 4-2 win over Toronto, Pandolfo played alongside Kelly and Peverley, and helped stabilize the line defensively.
Pandolfo might be faster and more experienced than Caron. But the 22-year-old would give the line more brawn and higher offensive upside.
“He’s a big body,” said coach Claude Julien. “He’s strong along the walls. It’s about giving him an opportunity now to show us that he’s gotten better.”
Caron and Pandolfo could be short-term solutions to the left wing vacancy on the third line. Carl Soderberg, acquired from St. Louis for Hannu Toivonen on July 23, 2007, could join the Bruins after the Swedish Elite League playoffs. Soderberg is playing for Linkoping.
Soderberg has 31 goals and 29 assists this season, but has never played a game in North America.
“I’ve got the reports about him like everybody else,” Julien said. “When you talk about a player possibly coming, you like to have some information. That’s basically all I have on him.”
Tyler Seguin has five goals and seven assists in the last 10 games. “There’s less hesitation in his game,” Julien said. “He’s getting more confidence. He’s playing extremely well.” . . . The Bruins touched up their neutral-zone work on Friday. The Bruins look to the neutral zone to generate speed and gain clean entries over the blue line. “I thought we lost a little bit of our speed with our transition game,” Julien said. “We addressed that again today. Whenever you get practice time, you try and do things that are going to be efficient for your hockey club.” . . . David Krejci was indifferent about the time he was facing in the dentist’s chair on Friday. Krejci lost a false tooth in Thursday’s third period. “Just one of those things,” he said.