PRAGUE — Jordan Caron entered the preseason as the savvy hockey fan’s sleeper pick for the Calder trophy, someone whose offensive capabilities could prove more valuable in the coming season for the Bruins than second overall pick Tyler Seguin . At practically each checkpoint, anyone who entered camp high on Caron looked smarter and smarter. The team’s 2009 first-round pick scored a hat trick in the first rookie exhibition at the Garden against the Islanders, and when the team suited up Saturday’s tilt with the Belfast Giants , they did so with Caron as their second-line right wing.
Yet over the course of this European trip, Caron has battled issues that were previously nonexistent, and as a result has been bumped from the second line by third-year man Blake Wheeler . Caron, who is now splitting time with Michael Ryder  as the third line right wing, has showed symptoms of fatigue from a long buildup to the season, according to coach Claude Julien . Mark Recchi  feels his former linemate is battling confidence issues. Whatever is going on with Caron, he’s not prepared to let it define him as he enters his first professional season.
“It’s been a long camp for me, but I don’t want to take that as an excuse,” said Caron, whose English is still coming along. “I guess it has been a long training camp for me, but I have to get over it and just try to do my best.”
Even without making excuses, Caron could identify that he’s now playing in a far different league and environment than before. He pointed to the exhibition game in Montreal as his wake-up call that he’s become an NHL  caliber player, but also stated that the competition is much tougher.
“Everything is faster, everything is stronger. You can tell the guys are much stronger, just in front of the net and in battling for pucks,” Caron said. “You don’t play against 18 or 19-year-old guys, you play against men. I think that’s the biggest difference.
“It’s pretty hard just to play against older guys like this, but I don’t want to make any excuses. I just need to do my best.”
Recchi and Patrice Bergeron , both of whom played with Caron throughout the beginning of the preseason on the second line, grabbed lunch on Monday to discuss Caron and how to help him with whatever jitters he may be showing. The two figured it would be best if Bergeron, who not long ago went through the rookie process and is also from Quebec, sat the youngster down for dinner on Monday as part of the continued mentorship for Caron.
“I’ve talked with Bergy a lot, and he says sometimes you don’t even have to battle,” Caron said. You have to be be smart and postition yourself in the right place and it will be easier.
“Having him speaking French, he really takes care of me in every aspect. Any type of question [I have], I can go right up to him and ask him.”
It isn’t a secret that Recchi, 42, has seen everything in this league, and he’s no stranger to seeing a player fight through a rookie wall. He likens the case of Caron to that of another Jordan in Jordan Staal, who in 2006-07 showed the same things with the Penguins  he is currently seeing from Caron.
“I think you’re so intense and you’re so nervous over the course of the whole time, and you can’t sustain it,” Recchi said. “I remember Jordan Staal. He was great, great, great, then he hit a little bit of a wall, and then just before the season he got good again, and then he took off into the season. I remember getting close to the end of camp, he got a little bit tired. It was the same thing [as Caron]. ‘¦ It happens. It’s a lot. They had rookie camp, so they’ve been going at it for a while, and they may skate a lot earlier than most older guys do.”
Now skating with Seguin, a player with whom he’s gotten pretty close throughout development camp, rookie camp, and training camp, Caron isn’t too concerned with which line he ends up on. For now, he’s sticking to the conservative “if I make the team” mentality made famous by Seguin.
Julien has left the door open for him to “prove” that he belongs on the second line, which Caron admits he would love to play on. Recchi said that the rookie “got” the message that he needed to revert back to the player he was long before being moved off the second line. The veteran is confident that Caron has a long career of him, and that it will kick into high gear once he breaks the habit of overthinking things on the ice.
“I think he got really nervous in Belfast, just because [the season is] getting close,” Recchi said. “‘¦That’s like with anybody. When you start losing your confidence, you start thinking too much and then you don’t reach as quick, nothing comes naturally. It’s a natural thing for a young kid.”