BOSTON, MA – Jordan Caron has been called up to the Boston Bruins six times, and every time he gets sent down to Providence, each trip is more important than the last.
“We don’t want him to go down and say, ‘I’m only here to get myself in shape,’” Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said after this morning’s optional skate.
“He still has to earn his way back up here and we’ve told him that – don’t go down there assuming you’re the first call up.”
But this season, that’s been the case for Caron.
With Brad Marchand serving a five-game suspension, Caron’s size on the left wing is something Julien said he could use as the B's embark on a tough five-game stretch.
“He’s a big body and we’re going to end up playing some big teams down the road,” Julien said. “He’s certainly someone we need to rely on in big games if need be.”
While it can be frustrating getting sent up and down as much as Caron has, he’s seized the opportunity to hone his game.
“I need to be play games and I can’t be sitting here a month without playing so it’s pretty good to go there and get some games,” Caron said.
Julien agreed, and was happy Caron has made good use of his time down in the AHL. With a four game road stretch in the crosshairs, Julien stressed the importance of having Caron on hand.
“I think [he’s] worthy of getting some opportunities because we like his game,” Julien said. “He got caught in the situation where he had to sit out a lot – naturally a guy’s game is going to fade a little bit because of rustiness.
"I think our goal is to utilize him a bit.”
Caron, who stands at 6-foot-2, 202-pounds, possesses a defensive game that Julien said is his strongest asset.
“It’s pretty natural for him – he does a good job,” Julien said. “We have a lot of confidence in him there.”
But Julien also wants to see Caron translate his size into offensive output – the kind he saw over the summer.
“I remember seeing him in camp his first year and how he really used his size and strength to take pucks to the net,” he said. “That was pretty impressive to me. I don’t want him to be afraid to make mistakes, I want him to play with confidence and make things happen.
“We’ll live with some of the mistakes – he’s a really reliable guy defensively and the mistakes he’s worried about aren’t big mistakes.”
Lucic, Horton have corners covered on Krejci line
After an uneven start to the 2011-12 campaign, forward Nathan Horton has found his stride – scoring four goals and recording an assist in his last five games.
It’s showing on the ice, and Julien said it’s a sign of things to come.
“I’d have to say [his play] picked up in the last week or so,” Julien said. “When he’s emotionally involved in the game, he brings a lot. He can be a physical player, a strong player – he’s in the right spot and he buries his opportunities.
“To me, he started doing that and I see a guy turning the corner and I hope he keeps building on what he’s been doing the last week.”
When paired with power forward Milan Lucic on David Krejci’s line, the trio creates havoc for opposing teams.
Lucic stands at 6-foot-4, while Horton isn’t far behind at 6-foot-2. The two weigh 220 and 229 pounds respectively – combing for a force that often overpowers most teams’ skill lines.
Krejci’s trio can create opportunities for themselves and for each other and last game was a reminder of that.
To spark the third period comeback, Lucic fed the puck to Krejci, who’s near telepathic pass to Horton resulted in No. 18’s second goal of the game.
In the first period, Lucic streaked up the wing and grabbed the attention of Winnipeg’s defense, leaving room for an easy pass to Horton, who tapped in the goal.
“They’re big, they’re strong, they can take the space they want and be heavy on their sticks – they score those kinds of goals,” Julien said. “Once those two guys find that part of their game, they become a really good line because the guy in the middle [Krejci] will find them, but that doesn’t stop them from finding each other either.
“Luch is a straight-line guy, and uses outside speed and the other guy drives the net and it’s a direct pass for a goal. Those kinds of things can happen a lot for those two players.”