With 14 minutes remaining in Thursday’s game at New Jersey, Caron entered in relief of Dwayne Roloson
and stopped all four shots faced in what would eventually result in a 6-4 loss to the Devils.
But solely by virtue of trade, Caron knows all too well the nature of second chances and rebounds.
And tonight, as the Lightning face off against the division-rival Winnipeg Jets at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the Bolts’ newest net minder is hoping to use both to his advantage as he makes his first team start in net since joining the team on Mar. 19.
“To be honest, I’m a little nervous,” Caron said. “But for seven years I’ve been waiting for this, so I’m excited too. This chance has been a long time coming for me.”
For the Amqui, Quebec native, it is a happy return to the NHL after five seasons in Russia, Switzerland and Germany.
Signed to a one-year prorated contract after Mathieu Garon
went down with a season-ending groin injury, and after the Lightning reassigned prospect Dustin Tokarski to Norfolk of the AHL to aid in the Admirals’ playoff run, Caron is in for a short stint with the team that is just as much an opportunity as it is an audition.
“It’s kind of like a tryout,” Caron added. “I hope it works out, but all I can do is play hard and do my best. That’s all I can control.”
Prior to Thursday night, Caron most recently played in the NHL during the 2006-07 season when he split a total of two games with the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks, posting a win for each team.
But against the Devils, there was a telling, yet comical moment that revealed just how long it had been since Caron last saw NHL action.
With 5:23 remaining in the second period, it appeared Roloson was being pulled after just allowing a goal to Marek Zidlicky at the blue line that gave New Jersey a 4-3 advantage. But as Roloson came to the bench and Caron skated in, Lightning head coach Guy Boucher indicated for Roloson to turn back and return to his position in between the pipes.
“It was a bit of a miscommunication,” Caron said laughing. “I saw coach waving in my direction. I thought it was pretty clear what he was saying, but I guess I didn’t know what he was doing.”
What he was doing was actually signaling for right wing Teddy Purcell
to get on the ice. Caron mistakenly thought the gesture was for him.
Sebastien Caron #35 of the Tampa Bay Lightning tends net in warmups prior to the game against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on March 26, 2012 (Photo: NHLI via Getty Images)
“It was a funny moment,” Caron added. “I just hope it doesn’t happen that way again tonight.”
It shouldn’t, as Thursday’s brief showing gave Caron a taste of the faster-paced, North American game that he missed while he was away. He’ll now bring what he learned two nights ago and use it in his favor as he looks to help the Lightning bring the team’s two-game losing streak to a screeching halt.
“It was definitely an adjustment,” Caron said. “But it was good for me to get in there, as short as it was, to allow me to get loose. The game has changed a lot. It’s quicker, guys are bigger and they crash the net more, but you know, like I said, I think I know what to expect now. I’m feeling better about things now, for sure.”
There is no telling just how Caron will fair in front of the raucous home crowd in what will be his first NHL start in approximately six years. But for now, Caron is looking at tonight’s game as more of a potential revival of his career, regardless of the result.
“I didn’t think I was going to get one more chance like this, so it’s definitely nice to be back,” Caron said. “All I’m really looking to do is earn some playing time and work hard.”