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Looking back and ahead: Jordan Caron 05.18.12 at 4:23 pm ET
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With the Bruins’ season in the books, WEEI.com will take a look at each player on the roster one-by-one to provide some perspective on what went wrong this season and what the future holds for the 2011 champions.

Jordan Caron had seven goals this season for the B's. (AP)

Jordan Caron

Age: 21

2011-12 stats: 48 games played, 7 goals, 8 assists, 15 points, even rating

Contract status: signed through 2012-13 season ($1.1 million cap hit), restricted free agent after next season

Looking back: After going back and forth between Boston and Providence and playing in 23 NHL games in the 2010-11 season, Caron’s goal this time around was to stay with the big club for the entire 2011-12 campaign.

That didn’t exactly happen, as Caron was sent to Providence six different times this past season. Unlike his first taste of the NHL in the Bruins’ Cup-winning season, however, Caron was able to sustain a stretch in which he made clear why the Bruins selected him in the first round of the 2009 draft.

Caron totaled eight points over a six-game run from March 4-13 (four goals, four assists), and even saw his impressive play earn him time as a top-six forward after spending the vast majority of his NHL ice time as a third-or-fourth-liner.

Though his improved play down the stretch forced Daniel Paille to sit as the healthy scratch late in the season, Caron began the postseason in the press box. When the Bruins were struggling for offensive production in the first round, it seemed Caron could be inserted into the lineup in place of a fourth-liner in hopes of giving the team a bit of an offensive spark. Such strategy became a moot point, as Patrice Bergeron‘s oblique injury (which prevented him from taking faceoffs), forced Julien to play Caron instead of Shawn Thornton for the last two games against Washington just in case Bergeron went down during the game and the team needed a noter top-six forward.

Bergeron was able to play through the pain in Games 6 and 7, so Caron averaged 6:41 of ice time in his first two career playoff games.

Looking ahead: While Benoit Pouliot‘s surprising consistency and the trade for Brian Rolston made it tough for Caron to stay in the lineup (and even on the NHL roster) for the entire season, you would have to think that next season will be Caron’s time to stick.

Given the plethora of free agent forwards (Rolston, Chris Kelly, Paille, Gregory Campbell and the restricted Pouliot) and the fact that the B’s wouldn’t want to stunt to their former first-round pick’s development, the stars seem to be aligning for Caron to finally be given a full-time chance in the NHL.

Caron has spent practically all of his time in the NHL this point as a bottom-six forward when he’s been in the lineup, and it would seem that he’ll be in for more of the same next year. If Paille isn’t re-signed, Caron could end up skating with Campbell and Thornton while pushing for time on the third line. That isn’t to say there might not be immediate opportunity for Caron on the third line by the time training camp rolls around. Rolston could retire, the team could opt to not retain Pouliot or Kelly could opt for a bigger paycheck in a different market. Should Kelly leave, Rich Peverley could be an option to play center in Kelly’s place, and if either Rolston or Pouliot isn’t back, Caron could take the vacated wing spot. The Quebec native has played both left and right wing in the NHL for the B’s.

The thinking here is that the Bruins should do what they can to ensure Caron gets a prolonged look on the third line next season, preferably with Kelly as the pivot should they bring back the alternate captain. While the team’s offensive depth is undeniable, the Bruins have yet to fully replace Michael Ryder‘s offensive production with a third-line winger. With a full season, something along the lines of 18 goals shouldn’t be too out of reach for Caron.

Regardless of line he plays on next season, Caron will also be an option to serve more as a penalty killer for the B’s. Claude Julien obviously values two-way players highly, so don’t think he won’t try to get everything he can out of the defensively savvy youngster.

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Looking back and ahead: Benoit Pouliot 05.11.12 at 4:51 pm ET
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With the Bruins’ season in the books, WEEI.com will take a look at each player on the roster one-by-one to provide some perspective on what went wrong this season and what the future holds for the 2011 champions.

Benoit Pouliot set a career high in points in his first season as a Bruin. (AP)

Benoit Pouliot

Age: 25

2011-12 stats: 74 games played, 16 goals, 16 assists, 32 points (career-high), plus-18 (career-high)

Contract status: Restricted free agent ($1.1 million cap hit in 2011-12)

Looking back: Pouliot was a healthy scratch for the season-opener against the Flyers, and though he got into the lineup for the second game of the season, he was as quiet as any of the struggling Bruins in the month of October. He finished his first month as a Bruin with zero points and a minus-3 rating.

The former fourth overall pick certainly had some growing pains as he got into the swing of things with Boston. His propensity to take bad penalties in the offensive zone reared its ugly head, but Pouliot started producing as his line with Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly began to click. He scored seven goals over November and December, four of which were game-winners. It didn’t qualify as a game-winning goal, but Pouliot also gave the Bruins a victory with the deciding goal in a Nov. 23 shootout against the Sabres.

Pouliot totaled only 16 goals with the Bruins, but plenty of them were highlight-reel quality. Take this Dec. 23 goal, for example. After the Nathan Horton concussion and the trade deadline, Pouliot ended up developing a nice rapport on the slightly altered third line with Kelly and Brian Rolston.

Like the rest of the Bruins’ offense, Pouliot was quiet in the team’s seven-game quarterfinals series against the Capitals. He totaled a goal and an assist — which actually tied his career total for playoff points in 22 previous postseason games — but also took third-period penalties in Games 5 and 6, both of which were tied. The Capitals scored the game-winning goal on the power play that followed his slashing penalty with 2:50 left in Game 5.

Looking ahead: For the second straight year, Pouliot is set to become a restricted free agent. While the Canadiens decided to non-tender him after the 2010-11 season, the Bruins will have a much tougher choice to make.

If the B’s can get him back at a similar price (or even somewhere around $2 million for a year), they would be wise to do so. They probably wouldn’t go much higher than that, as the only reason they signed Pouliot in the first place was because they were unwilling to pay the vastly superior Michael Ryder.

The B’s have a lot of free agent forwards (Kelly, Daniel Paille, Rolston, Gregory Campbell), a question mark with one of their top wingers (Horton), and no youngsters guaranteed to seize a job in training camp (Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight would be the best contenders). Jordan Caron should be given a full-time job on the team next season, but if Pouliot can be had for relatively low money, he’s a body worth keeping around for both the depth chart’s sake and the off-chance that he can one day get more out of his obvious talent.

Pouliot said prior to the season that he wants to return to the Bruins. He’s had some rough stops in his NHL career (a bust in Minnesota, and a frequent occupant of Jacques Martin‘s doghouse in Montreal), and he feels he’s finally found something good in Boston. Whether or not the Bruins decide to keep him around will reflect whether the feeling is mutual.

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Benoit Pouliot saw Canadiens collapse coming, sees promising postseason with Bruins 04.10.12 at 2:03 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Benoit Pouliot‘s last postseason was a disaster. Bruins fans know that.

Benoit Pouliot scored 16 goals this season for the Bruins. (AP)

Though he set what was, at the time, a career-high 30 points for the Canadiens, Pouliot saw his minutes dwindle in the final games of the season before opening the playoffs as a fourth-liner. He didn’t do much in the three games he played in the first round against the Bruins — zero shots on goal and less than eight minutes a night — and the only notable thing he did was run Johnny Boychuk in the corner in Game 3, resulting in Andrew Ference, to quote Jack Edwards, attempting to “rip his head off.”

And that, to put it plainly, is where things ended for Benoit Pouliot and the Montreal Canadiens.

“After that hit, when I fought Andrew there, I knew,” Pouliot said in a chat with WEEI.com Tuesday. “Well, I didn’t know, but I didn’t play the rest of the game, and then after that he just didn’t put me back in. We were losing, 2-0, and I was trying to mix something up, but I guess he didn’t like it and I went and sat on the bench.”

The “he” to whom Pouliot referring is former Habs coach Jacques Martin. Pouliot has often spoken about the lack of confidence he felt Martin had in him, but the winger feels he’s in the right situation now.

“All year long, I didn’t have [many] breaks,” Pouliot said of his final season with the Habs. “I felt like they didn’t have confidence in me and didn’t put me in situations that I was good at. It was just kind of all negative stuff, and it kind of sucked actually.

“But now, this year the coach gave me some chances and I tried not to mess it up too much. If I did, well, I didn’t do it twice. You have some bad months, you have some good ones, but I think this year all things were good.”

Pouliot still seems to have a bad taste in his mouth when it comes to Montreal. He was traded to the Habs in the 2009-10 season, and though he had 15 goals in 39 games with Montreal, he never felt the fit was quite right. Read the rest of this entry »

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Benoit Pouliot expected back for Bruins, Daniel Paille and Andrew Ference remain out 03.08.12 at 11:51 am ET
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Claude Julien said after Thursday’s optional morning skate that forward Benoit Pouliot is expected to be in the lineup Thursday night against the Sabres. Pouliot took only two shifts in the second period Tuesday against the Maple Leafs before leaving and not returning.

“Looks good, looks fine,” Julien said of Pouliot. “[He] told us he’s ready to go.”

Forward Daniel Paille and defenseman Andrew Ference will not play for the B’s on Thursday. Both players are considered day-to-day. Paille has missed the last two games with an upper-body injury, while Ference has missed the last three games with a lower-body injury. Paille, Ference and Pouliot all skated Thursday morning.

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Andrew Ference on D&C: ‘Step in the right direction’ for Bruins 02.24.12 at 12:51 pm ET
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Andrew Ference

Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to discuss the mindset of the team with the NHL trade deadline looming on Monday.

The Bruins beat the Blues Wednesday night after going 3-6-0 in their nine previous contests. The win allowed them to remain two points ahead of the Senators for the Northeast Division lead.

“We had a couple of frustrating losses before that where we didn’t play bad, but we definitely took a step in the right direction,” Ference said. “We needed it. It was good. … I think it’s one of those games you can always reach back to, you can always look to. We have a team, especially over the last couple of years, it’s always done really well with challenges and always getting up for those big games, and like Andy [Brickley] said, using it as a launching point. It’s just one of those games where you set the bar at a certain level and we do well with trying to keep it there.”

The trade deadline is Monday and the Bruins are rumored to be in the market for help, but Ference said this team does not appear to him like one that is in need of an infusion in the form of a new player.

“I’ve been on teams that have felt like they definitely need an extra element or they need a little jolt just to get them going, and we definitely don’t have that feeling right now,” Ference said. “But that really doesn’t matter as far as whether or not the GM’s going to get something done because we know we have a guy that if he has the chance to make the team better, he’s going to do it.”

Added Ference: “Especially as players, something so far out of our control, that if you really waste too much energy on it, you drive yourself crazy. It is completely out of our control. I think that you really just have to have trust in the fact that they’re going to make the right move if it’s there and not make it if it’s not. That’s really their job. Personally, I really don’t spend any time thinking about it and I’m pretty sure most of the guys are the same. Obviously, you’re going to have guys that love looking at the rumors and checking out all the news from around the league. But there’s really no chatter about it amongst the guys. … It’s just really not talked about.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Andrew Ference, Andy Brickley, Benoit Pouliot, P.K. Subban Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Bruins-Canadiens Live Blog: Brad Marchand increases lead 12.19.11 at 6:46 pm ET
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Bruins-Penguins Live Blog: Matt Cooke makes it 3-1 12.05.11 at 6:59 pm ET
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