Julien impressed by Caron
Rookie shines in win over Montreal
MONTREAL — Of the Black-and-Gold youngsters who bowed at the Bell Centre in last night’s 4-2 win, Tyler Seguin may very well have the higher potential as a game-breaking NHLer. Seguin, however, wasn’t the best Boston rookie on the ice last night.
That title belonged to Jordan Caron.
Caron, a native of Sayabec, Quebec, was understandably nervous about playing in his home province’s crown jewel of a rink. But after shaking off early nerves, Caron played a poised, responsible, and difference-making game that opened the eyes of Claude Julien, further impressing a coach who had already liked his game.
“You look at him and he doesn’t look nervous,’’ Julien said. “I know I’ve talked a lot about him. But what I liked about Jordan is that he’s as reliable as can be. If somebody came to the game tonight and didn’t know anything about anybody, they would have looked at Caron and probably thought he was a veteran.’’
Caron started the game on a line with Daniel Paille and Patrice Bergeron. After the first period, when Julien shuffled his lines, Caron took shifts with Paille and Blake Wheeler. Caron finished his night with 15:54 of ice time, laying out three thumps while making an impact on management and the coaches.
“I think I was pretty nervous to start,’’ said the 20-year-old right wing. “I think the first period wasn’t my best. But I think the second and third, every shift I was getting better out there. I felt more comfortable. It was a great experience and great atmosphere.’’
Like most first-round picks (No. 25 overall in the 2009 draft), Caron was a scorer in junior, where he used his puck-protection skills to open up space for his heavy shot. In the first rookie game against the Islanders, Caron recorded a hat trick — tipping one shot, slamming home a power-play strike, and capping his night with an empty-netter.
But what makes Caron a candidate to bypass the AHL and jump from junior into the NHL is his two-way game. Last night, Caron was responsible with the puck. He made soft chips to keep the puck in the offensive zone and keep the cycle going. Caron showed some Milan Lucic to his game by barreling full speed into opponents along the walls.
“I had the puck a little bit more,’’ Caron said. “I was controlling the play a little more. I think that’s one aspect I’m good at — getting the puck down low and making good plays going to the net. In the third, I think I had the puck more, so it was easier for me.’’
Caron was a go-to player on special teams as well. He played 1:52 on the No. 2 power-play unit, skating with Ryan Spooner and Nathan Horton. On the penalty kill, Julien sent out Caron for 57 seconds of shorthanded time.
“He protected the puck well along the boards,’’ Julien said. “Never got himself into trouble. He used his body. He finished his checks. He used his body to protect the puck. And he had a couple good chances.
“He did everything he was asked to do.’’
“I didn’t expect so much nerves,’’ said Seguin. “But in the first period, they were definitely there. As the game went on, I felt more confident and a lot more comfortable. I was happy with the last two periods.’’
In the first, Seguin assisted on Johnny Boychuk’s power-play goal. In the second and third, Seguin shifted to left wing alongside Bergeron and Recchi. Seguin finished with two shots and one helper in 15:05 of ice time.
“You can see there’s a lot of potential and a lot of skill,’’ Julien said. “What he’s got to learn are the little things. Sometimes he was caught going up the ice in the middle against two or three guys. He’s going to notice he can’t stickhandle through three guys in this league. It’s a real good learning process for him. Started him off at center, and I thought he did a real decent job. I thought it was a good game for him.’’
With Marc Savard unavailable, the Bruins are exploring all their center-ice options. Before the game, Julien cited Seguin and Joe Colborne as two other youngsters who could play center. In Wheeler, the Bruins would have a big, speedy, skilled center who could take advantage of more room in the middle of the ice.
“More than anything, it was getting used to the skating again,’’ said Wheeler (one shot, 2 for 7 on faceoffs). “You’ve got to get back and forth with a lot of speed. I guess that’s the biggest adjustment. Other than that, it felt all right.’’
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.