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Jordan Caron looking to crack Bruins lineup 09.17.11 at 3:44 pm ET
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The Bruins return 11 forwards who saw significant playing time last season, meaning there is likely only one spot in the regular lineup open up front. One of the candidates to fill it is 2009 first-round pick Jordan Caron, who last season registered 12 goals and 16 assists in 47 games with Providence and three goals and four assists in 23 games with Boston.

Caron was a member of the “Black Aces” that served as healthy scratches during the playoffs, and he got the chance to practice with the big club during the Stanley Cup final after Nathan Horton went down. Caron said he is fully aware of what’s up for grabs during this training camp.

“There might be a spot open, but it’s going to be my job to earn it and win it,” Caron said. “If I play like I’m supposed to and I do what I have to do, I think I have a good chance to win the job.”

The 6-foot-2 winger said his biggest assets are his two-way play and his ability to battle in corners and create space for his linemates. He said the one thing he continues to work on the most is his skating, which was described as “average” by some scouts before he was drafted.

“For me, it’s always been my skating,” Caron said. “Keep improving my skating, my explosion and moving my feet. I worked a lot on that over the summer, like I do every summer. I think every year I’m getting better at it.”

His improvement in that area, as well as everywhere else, hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“I was watching him today, and he was certainly a guy that kind of grabbed my attention,” Claude Julien said. “He’s got good size. He seemed to be skating well. That’s what he did last year, as well — he was skating well and had good jump. Hopefully with a year of experience at the pro level now, he’ll be able to maintain that jump.

“He’s a pretty smart player. He’s got good hockey sense, and you see his reads are pretty good. He’s one of those guys that’s battling for a job, and we’re certainly going to keep a close eye on him.”

Read More: Jordan Caron, Training camp 2011,
Tim Thomas not talking about matching last season at 1:32 pm ET
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Last year, Tim Thomas put together one of the best seasons any goaltender has ever had. He compiled a 35-11-9 record, 2.00 goals-against average and NHL-record .938 save percentage. He collected his second Vezina Trophy and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. The only downside to all that is it sets the bar at a seemingly impossible height for this season.

“I think Tim’s biggest challenge is going to be being able to duplicate what he did last year,” Claude Julien said Friday. “If he ever comes close to doing that, we know we’re going to have a good goaltender, because his season last year was outstanding.

“He’s one of those players, like everybody else, who has to be willing to up his game. That doesn’t necessarily mean be better. Just to be as consistent as he was last year means he’s going to have to up his game, in my mind. That’s the one thing Timmy’s capable of doing when he sets his mind to it.”

After the first official practice of the season on Saturday, Thomas refused to talk about any of that just yet.

“It’s the first day of camp,” Thomas said. “You look to improve each day. I’d rather focus on the smaller picture than to get into that stuff right now.

“I’m gonna take a day off from that. It’s the first day of camp. Just enjoy it, being back on the ice with some of the elite-level hockey players in the world. Focus on that rather than thinking back to what happened last year or thinking forward to what is next year.”

Thomas acknowledged that he would obviously like to match what he did last season, but wouldn’t say any more than that.

“That’s as far as I want to go with that right now,” Thomas said. “I’m worried about getting my skates right, my equipment right. That’s more of where my mind is right now than all that other stuff.”

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Nathan Horton feels good on first day of camp at 12:58 pm ET
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Nathan Horton skated on the TD Garden ice Saturday for the first time since Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final, when he suffered a concussion and was carted off on a stretcher. After two hours of practice, he said he felt just fine.

“It definitely feels good,” Horton said. “It feels nice to not have any setbacks, especially today. The first day is always the hardest. I feel good right now, and hopefully I continue to feel good.”

Horton, who was also recovering from a separated shoulder, first returned to the ice last Friday during veterans practice in Wilmington. He said Saturday that he doesn’t have any lingering effects from either injury.

“I wasn’t worried at all,” Horton said. “I just feel like it’s in the past. I haven’t even thought about it. When I’m on the ice or I do the fitness testing, it doesn’t even cross my mind. I just try and do as well as I can and don’t worry about headaches or anything like that.”

This offseason was different for Horton not just because he was recovering from those injuries, but also because it was much shorter than the offseasons he had in Florida, where he never made the playoffs in six seasons.

“It’s fun coming in every year knowing you have a chance to win the Stanley Cup,” Horton said. “That’s what excites me, and I think everyone’s just excited to be back and go for another chance. When you get in the playoffs, like everyone says, it’s a taste you just want to keep getting more of. It was the best experience of my life, obviously, and it was a lot of fun. I just can’t wait to work towards getting back there.”

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Why Benoit Pouliot prepared for the season with a UFC trainer at 8:00 am ET
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Ask any of the Bruins to describe their summer, and you’ll hear a lot of guys saying it was the best summer of their lives. The returning members got to celebrate winning the Stanley Cup and got to show off the trophy to their family and friends. As a result, they have  had nothing but good things to say about the offseason.

Benoit Pouliot is singing a different tune.

“It was awful,” the newcomer said of his summer as training camp opened.

No, Pouliot wasn’t talking about being non tendered by the Canadiens or anything of that sort. What made it such a terrible summer — in a good way — was his new training program.

Pouliot spent the offseason with Jonathan Chaimberg, a UFC trainer, and it paid off. The 6-foot-3 forward gained weight (he said he was at 208 or 209 pounds at one point — the most he’s ever weighed) and weighed in at 203 on Friday, which is five pounds more than he weighed when playing for the Canadiens last year.

The training program was unorthodox for Pouliot and the other NHL players in attendance, but it did the trick.

“There were some things I’ve never done,” Pouliot said. “There were ladder things. You walk up a ladder for cardio, or push a sled with like 600 or 700 pounds on it. I’m telling you, you don’t want to do it. That was the worst thing ever, but hey I pulled through it. The trainer was so good to me and pushed me so hard that right now I feel great.”

So why did Pouliot seek the help of a UFC trainer?

“I wanted to get bigger,” he said. “Everyone’s been, ‘Hey, you’re not big enough. You’re not big enough. You’re tall, but you’re not [big],’ so I tried to do that as much as I can and now I feel good.”

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David Krejci puts Benoit Pouliot fight behind him 09.16.11 at 4:55 pm ET
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One of the shortest fights of the Feb. 9 Bruins/Canadiens penalty-minute bonanza took place between a couple guys who now share a dressing room in Benoit Pouliot and David Krejci.

Pouliot weighed in on the brief bout, in which he took Krejci down with the first actual punch thrown, when he met the media this week, saying that he had spoken to Krejci and that the two were happy to be teammates.

Friday, Krejci echoed Pouliot’s comments.

“It was nothing personal when we fought,” Krejci said. “He wanted to fight. I wanted to fight him, and that’s what happened. … There’s no need for him to apologize to me or anything like that. It’s nothing personal. It’s business. That’s what happens in hockey. We talked about it, and he seems like a nice guy. I don’t know him that well yet, but I’m sure he’s a good guy.”

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Andrew Ference not worried about who gets the vacant ‘A’ at 2:58 pm ET
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Will Andrew Ference get Mark Recchi's letter? (AP)

Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference is a strong candidate (and, in one man’s opinion, the best candidate) to potentially wear the “A” that Mark Recchi wore for the Bruins last season. What does he think of joining captain Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron as the letter-bearing Bruins?

“It’s not really on my radar,” Ference said.

Ference has certainly established a voice in the Bruins’ dressing room, but he’s happy that he’s on a team full of players who can be leaders. If he does end up getting the letter, Ference doesn’t planning how he approaches things.

“You see what Rex, how he wore it, and what he did with something like that. He didn’t go out of his way to try to be somebody he wasn’t,” he said. “I’ve mentioned that before with Zee, what a great leader he is because he just is himself. We have a group full of guys who have learned from Zee or Rex and learned those lessons, how Bergie carries himself.

“I think within the confines of the dressing room, I think we all know everybody has their own strengths of leadership, whether it’s by example or some guys are more vocal than others. So whether you have something on your jersey or not, I think you have a responsibility to add what you can to the dressing room. I don’t think it changes who you are or should be or anything like that. It just is what it is, and they’ve got to put it on somebody.”

Read More: Andrew Ference, Mark Recchi, Patrice Bergeron, Training camp 2011
Heavier Tyler Seguin weighs in on second camp at 2:16 pm ET
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Tyler Seguin had 11 goals last season. (AP)

Bruins second-year forward Tyler Seguin said Friday that he has gained “a bit more” than 10 pounds since the end of last season after spending the offseason working out in Toronto.

“I’ve gotten stronger,” Seguin said. “All my tests were better, so I definitely feel better, more confident and a bit more mature.”

Seguin spent the offseason working out in Toronto with former Maple Leafs strength and conditioning coach Matt Nichol. Other athletes who train with Nichol include Canadiens forward Mike Cammalleri and Lee Stempniak.

Seguin had 11 goals and 11 assists last season as a rookie. Having now established a roster spot, Seguin said the feeling entering camp now is far different from what it was when he came in last season.

“Last year I was really more blind coming in,” Seguin said. “This year, I know what to expect, so I’m excited to get going. Excited to take that experience into this year.”

Where he figures into the lineup this year is anyone’s guess, as he could remain on a retooled third line or potentially jump up to the second line and take the spot left vacated by Mark Recchi.

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