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BOSTON (CBS) — Jordan Caron knows it’s time to put up – better offensive totals, that is – or it might be time to pack up, now that he’s seemingly made the Bruins opening-night roster.
The Bruins Sunday placed 27-year-old forward Nick Johnson on waivers for the purpose of assigning him to Providence of the American Hockey League. By avoiding a similar fate, Caron can now lay claim to at least the 13th forward spot on Boston’s roster.
He can also take solace in the fact that he didn’t play his absolute best while scoring just one goal in six preseason contests.
“No, I don’t think so. I think you always want to get better and there’s always things you need to work on and do better,” he said after practice Sunday at TD Garden. “But I think the last three, four games, I think I stepped up my game since that 8-2 [loss] against Detroit. I think from that, I’ve played better and like I said, you always to work on things, but overall I think the last three or four games went pretty good.”
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The 13th forward job is not a no-show occupation. Already it looks like Caron might be pressed into action because David Krejci (back spasms) and Carl Soderberg (lower body) are day-to-day. Bruins coach Claude Julien even said that Soderberg’s injury, which was originally considered minor, might be something that makes the forward questionable for the regular season opener Thursday against Tampa Bay.
Regardless of what line he’s on, Caron is going to have to up his offensive game to complement his defensive play. The Bruins will particularly need him to contribute more if Caron’s skating in Soderberg’s spot alongside Chris Kelly and Reilly Smith on the third line. In the Bruins’ four-line attack, every unit has to chip in.
“I think just having the confidence to not be scared to make mistakes,” said Caron, who scored at about a 20-goal pace in the AHL in his two healthy seasons. “You know playing with nothing on your mind is really important and that’s something that I need to do. Like I said, I’ve always been good in my zone. So I just need to don’t worry about that, it’s just going to come natural, and offensively I know I have the skills to do it. So I just have to go out there and do it.”
Caron is 22 and will turn 23 in November. He’s on his second contract after he re-signed for one year last summer as a restricted free agent. The Bruins would have to try to sneak him through waivers if they wanted to send him to Providence, so just the act of not waiving Caron tells everyone the organization still sees his potential and doesn’t want to lose him for nothing. With goals, however, he’s worth almost nothing to Boston.
“Well I think the last couple games, I thought there was a little bit more urgency in his game in doing the things we talked about,” Julien said. “His whole camp was what we know about Jordan. You know, reliable and, you know, doing the things he has to do. But we asked him to do a little bit more. And not just because he scored a goal, but he had some chances and I thought we used him on the penalty kill and different areas, but he seemed to generate a little bit more.
“But that has to continue. You know I mean he’s [almost] 23 years old, he’s still a young player, and he’s a player that you know an organization doesn’t want to give up on too early. So we feel as coaches that we can help him improve and we’re going to work with him to make him improve in those areas, around the net. We know, like I said, he’s very reliable along the walls and that, but some more [improved play] along the net area, hopefully if he improves there he’s going to give us a little bit more production and a little more offense.”
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.