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Aggressive Jordan Caron looks the part in season-opener

10.03.13 at 11:39 pm ET
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Jordan Caron

Jordan Caron

Jordan Caron wouldn’t have played Thursday were it not for Carl Soderberg being hurt, but the 22-year-old gave the B’s a lot to think about even if Soderberg’s ankle is feeling better for Saturday’s game.

Caron, who for the past three seasons has had more stops and starts than something that stops and starts a lot, was excellent in the Bruins’ season-opening 3-1 win over Lightning. The player known for being wise beyond his years defensively but offensively sheepish was the most aggressive he’s ever been at the NHL level, using his thick frame to battle along the wall and taking pucks to the net throughout the night. At one point, it even looked like he might’ve dropped the gloves.

Caron was skating in Soderberg’s place on the third line with Chris Kelly and Reilly Smith. Kelly turned in a standout performance of his own, winning 12 of 17 faceoffs, scoring on a shorthanded penalty shot and playing a big role on the penalty kill on a night in which the Bruins kept Steven Stamkos and friends 0-for-5 on the man advantage.

Caron’s highlight of the night came in the second period, when he hustled down the left wing entering the zone to beat a Lightning player to the puck and stormed the net, putting the puck on Anders Lindback and persistently jabbing at the rebounds until it went in. It was everything the Bruins had been wanting to see from their 2009 first-round pick for years, and it was a good moment for Caron as evidenced by his celebration. After seeing his hustle rewarded, the mild-mannered Caron authoritatively pointed at the puck in the back of the net.

“Yeah, I got pretty jacked up when I saw it go in,” Caron admitted after the game.

Then he heard the whistle. Then he saw the ref.

The goal had been waved off, as an official with a bad angle thought Lindback had stopped and covered up the puck. Caron was cost what should have been a hard-earned goal, but the good thing was that it wasn’t his only chance of the night. In the first period he blocked a clearing attempt by the Lightning and drove to the net (his shot was blocked), and he and his line had multiple other scoring chances that included a nice 3-on-2 with Kelly and Smith.

The line at the end of the night read zero goals and zero assists and a modest two-shots on goal, but Caron’s two takeaways on the night better illustrated his game. He was aggressive and he was engaged. Never the best skater, he was moving well. Late in the first period, Caron got into a bit of a shoving match with Pierre-Cedric Labrie, who has about 30 pounds on him and would fight Shawn Thornton the following shift. It was as well-rounded a game as he’d played in the NHL, and in a career that’s been littered with bright spots followed by relative darkness, Caron started off his fourth professional campaign on a very encouraging note with the net-drive the B’s had longed to see.

“I think that’s my game, bringing the puck to the net,” Caron said. “I think that’s what I did tonight.”

It remains to be seen what will happen with Soderberg, who is on injured reserve at the moment but is eligible to come off it in time for Saturday’s game against the Red Wings should he be healthy. If he’s good to go for Saturday, the B’s will have an interesting decision to make due to the performance they got out of Caron in the season-opener.

“I think right now he’s grasping the opportunity here and I thought he had a good game,” Claude Julien said. “That line was pretty good for us tonight. Kelly was arguably our best player tonight. Jordan and Smith, they really worked hard in the forecheck and made things happen so they were a good line for us tonight. Jordan, I was extremely happy with his game.”

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