Commentary

Jordan Caron finding game in minors

Updated: January 4, 2011, 10:29 PM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

NORTH SMITHFIELD, R.I. -- There was no way Boston Bruins prospect Jordan Caron was going to miss Monday's semifinal game of the World Junior Championships between Canada and Team USA.

Caron, currently playing for the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League, and a few of his teammates watched the WJC game on a computer, while also watching the Bruins game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on NESN at their apartment in Providence.

[+] EnlargeJordan Caron
AP Photo/Winslow TownsonJordan Caron, who was scoreless in his first nine games after being sent to the minors, seems to have regained his confidence.

"We were watching both games, but mostly Canada," Caron said with a smile Tuesday following the P-Bruins' practice at the R.I. Sports Center. "It was a fun game to watch."

A year ago, Caron was a member of Team Canada at the World Juniors and won a silver medal after losing to Team USA in the championship game. He felt the enthusiasm as some of his former teammates pounded the U.S., 4-1, Monday night.

"It was fun," he said. "It was hard last year losing in the finals to the U.S. It was tough because we came so close to winning a gold medal, but we came up short. [Monday] night was fun to watch the guys and they played very well. They dominated the whole game and it was good to see that."

A single year can make a major difference in a player's career.

Boston selected Caron with its first pick (25th overall) in the 2009 NHL draft, and he entered this season, his first as a pro, with high expectations.

Caron should have started the season in the AHL. Sure, he played well during training camp and in the exhibition season, but because of injuries to Bruins forwards Marc Savard and Marco Sturm, Caron found himself on the NHL roster instead.

The 20-year-old winger played in 20 games with Boston and registered three goals and four assists before he was sent to Providence on Dec. 6.

"It was hard," Caron said of being sent down. "When you play in the NHL, you want to stay there. It was a dream playing there and it was hard the first couple of days to accept being sent down. But after that with the guys [in Providence] and the coaching staff, everything has been great. I've moved on and told myself to come here and work hard."

Caron has done just that for the P-Bruins. In both games and practices, he plays like he's still in the NHL.

When Caron was informed he was being sent to Providence, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien told the young forward to continue to play his game and don't let up. Providence coach Rob Murray has given Caron every opportunity to be successful and develop at the same time by putting him in a variety of roles.

"Attitude-wise, from Day 1, in no way did he have that NHL mentality of 'I'm better than these guys down here.' He came down and worked hard," Murray said.

In 11 games with Providence, Caron has one goal and four assists, while posting a minus-5 differential.

After failing to score in his first nine games, Caron was finally rewarded for his hard work and relentless style of play on Saturday with his first AHL goal in a 6-2 loss to the Connecticut Whale. He added an assist in a 2-1 victory over Bridgeport on Sunday.

Bruins management is keeping a close tab on Caron's progress, and he's hoping to keep his current streak going.

He's not the type of player who is going to stand out from a finesse standpoint, but rather make the opposition worry.

"A lot of his game, I don't know if Jordon is going to be a dynamic player in the American League or the NHL," Murray said. "He's a power forward who needs to get his feet moving and use his size to his advantage."

Protecting the puck, especially down low in the offensive zone, is key to his success as well as the team's. Caron finally is beginning to realize his potential and ability, and those successes are beginning to show.

Playing with confidence is something he's been working on since he arrived in Providence.

Anytime a young player, especially someone with the skills that Caron possesses, has trouble producing offensively, it can stifle his development. It's easy for a young player to question his ability, while trying to figure out what he's doing wrong.

Caron found himself feeling that way, and Murray noticed it. So the two recently had a talk, with Murray telling Caron to keep digging and working hard, and that eventually the game would get easier.

"When the points start coming, you start to feel good about your game, and you're helping the team win and be better," Murray said. "I haven't had any issues with his game. As long as he's moving his feet, and I know that sounds so simple, but when he's playing a static game, he's not effective."

In order to be successful, Caron needs to be consistently skating, driving to the net and punishing the opposition's defensemen.

"When he does that, whether it's here or in the NHL, he's effective," Murray said. "That's something, as a young guy, he needs to maintain that mentality and consistency.

"I have not been disappointed in him. I think he's been disappointed in himself in the fact that he hasn't been able to generate on the offensive side."

Last weekend, Caron played well and saw his name on the scoresheet, which could give him the confidence boost he's been looking for. He feels he's turned the corner.

"It's good. Since Christmas it's been good," Caron said. "I had a tough stretch of about four or five games where things weren't going the way I wanted them to and I kind of lost my confidence for a while."

After the break, Caron came back confident and it has shown on the ice. He's been playing with veteran Jeremy Reich and fellow prospect Zach Hamill on the P-Bruins' top line.

Because Caron had an early taste of playing in the NHL, he knows exactly what he needs to do to get back to Boston and be successful at the next level.

"I need to play a good two-way game," Caron said. "I need to keep improving in both aspects and play good in both ends of the ice. If I do that I'm going to be a good player."

The Bruins hope so.

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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