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BOSTON (CBS) – At this rate, it should be just a couple of weeks before Jordan Caron is centering and playing wing on no fewer than three of the Bruins’ forward lines.
That’s how meteoric his rise to stardom in Boston’s lineup has been over the course of the last week.
Fresh off scoring three goals during Boston’s two-game road trip to New York and Toronto, Caron earned a promotion from the Bruins’ third line to their second line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand during a dramatic 3-1 win over Buffalo Thursday night at the TD Garden.
After making the move in the second period, he was an instant hit with his new linemates, as he created several scoring chances and assisted on Johnny Boychuk’s game-winning goal during the victory. So where does he go from here?
“I don’t know. We’ll see,” said Caron after the Bruins completed a two-game winning streak for the first time since Jan. 10 and 12. “I think I feel pretty good right now and I’m getting more and more ice time, so I think that’s something that I really like. It’s easier when you play 12, 13, 14 minutes a game. It gets you in the game and gets your legs going. You have more confidence when you get out there.”
Caron was in and out of the NHL lineup, shuttled back and forth between Boston and Providence, and seldom used when wearing a spoked ‘B’ for much of this season’s first five months. Recently his ice time has increased, he’s responded with the type of play worthy of a 2009 first-round draft pick, and in turn head coach Claude Julien has piled on more minutes and responsibility.
With the Bruins hunting for their first goal of the night and playing catch-up against the Sabres, Julien made the move to swap Caron and Brian Rolston on the depth chart and remove Caron from his spot alongside Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot on the third line.
“Well, I think Jordan has been playing extremely well the past two, three games. He’s really seemed to found his stride and confidence, and that line has been good for us – the Bergy Line with Rolly and Marsh. But I felt like somewhere along the way, we needed a little bit more offense. And since [Caron has] been going well, I wanted to see what that was going to give us.”
Caron has begun to give the Bruins what he gave his junior team when he was a 67-point scorer, and what he gave the P-Bruins last season when he racked up 28 points in 47 games with little support from a weak roster. He’s a solid, strong body who can protect the puck. He’s at his best playing on the right side, his off wing, like he has been most of this season.
His patented move seems to be carrying the puck off the right wall to the middle of the ice, where he can get off a quick shot or dish the puck off to a linemate while the defenders jab away at him. Even he admits he won’t be able to milk that move forever and will have to mix it up a little bit going forward, but for now Caron’s offensive play is reminiscent of a motivated Michael Ryder when he was at his best for Boston in the postseason.
So now Caron is among Boston’s top six forwards with the playoffs just a month away. The Bruins are hoping some combination of Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley get healthy enough to bump Caron back down the depth chart in time for the most important portion of the season.
If Caron keeps skating in his current slot, however, he has a chance to be that elusive replacement for Ryder and more (because he’s younger and a better defensive player). That’s something the Bruins won’t put a cap on, so Caron can feel free to think big about his future.