Of all the players auditioning for a spot on the third line, one stands out in terms of his chances with the Bruins. That would be Jordan Caron, who has been shuttled between Boston and Providence and who might be facing his last, best chance to stick.
“We know what kind of player he is, he just has to go out there and do that,” coach Claude Julien said.
That’s the plan, at least, as the Bruins attempt to find fill the vacancies to the left and right of likely center Chris Kelly.
“[Caron’s] big, he’s strong, he’s got to be strong against the walls, he’s got to make sure that he gets in there quick enough on the forecheck and then we do get the puck in the offensive zone,” Julien continued.
“At the same time, he’s a guy that can take pucks to the net and go to the net and bring some offense to his game as far as wanting to be on the side of scoring opportunities.
“So we don’t want him to just think about not getting scored on, we want him to think about being a good two-way player, because he’s capable of doing that.”
He just hasn’t done it yet. Caron, 22, has had the chances: 23 games in 2010-11, 48 games in 2011-12, and 17 games last season. In those 88 games, he has 11 goals and 14 assists for 25 points.
He has been hampered by both injuries and ineffectiveness, and he knows that the time is now to show the Bruins what he can give them. He said repeatedly Thursday that he just wants to “turn the page” on those other seasons and focus on the future.
“I’m really excited for this year coming up,” Caron said.
“I think there’s more room in the lineup than the last few years, so I want to put my foot down and take the room there is.
“I just want to be ready when the season starts, win that spot, and keep it all season.”
Part of that is gaining confidence.
“I think that’s big,” Caron said.
“I think it’s nice when you know that you have the confidence of everybody behind you and you’re allowed to make mistakes out there and you still have your regular shifts and you’re not going to be bounced in the stands or something like that.”
He spent time working out with Patrice Bergeron in the offseason, and the center can see the improvements that Caron has made toward winning a spot in the lineup.
“He looks a lot more confident already,” Bergeron said. “Even today, I thought he was very confident with the puck and on the ice he felt comfortable.
“I think it was just the years and the experience of the game over the past couple years and even this summer he trained really hard.
“I was with him all summer, and he proved himself the right way. Hopefully he plays the way he’s capable of playing and things go well for him.”
In great shape
Julien seemed pleased with defenseman Matt Bartkowski, saying he has come into camp “in better shape than he ever has.” The coach added, “I think right now it’s basically his job to lose, as far as being here with our hockey club. He took it seriously enough to come in in the best shape ever and right now the confidence that he’s gained throughout the last part of last year playing with us has certainly helped him.” How much he plays, though, will depend on how well he does in camp. The Bruins have two open starting spots that are likely to go to either Bartkowski, Dougie Hamilton, or Torey Krug.
When Brad Marchand heard that Tyler Seguin had been traded, his thoughts turned to himself. If the Bruins would trade a player with the talent of Seguin, what did that mean for the rest of them? “It was a bit of a wake-up call that every day you come in, you’ve got to make sure you’re doing everything you have to do to stay here,” said Marchand. “I don’t think anyone really expected Segs to be shipped out that early. Definitely took a little while to sink in.” And, to Marchand, it meant that he needed to make sure that he was on top of his game at all times. In fact, it even left him a bit worried. “A little bit,” said Marchand, who added that he was concentrating this season on becoming a better two-way player, like linemate Bergeron. “Anything can happen at any time,” said Marchand. “If you have half a bad year or you’re not playing up to par, with the cap system nowadays, they’re going to want to improve the team and you don’t want to be the guy to get shipped out. So the easiest thing to do is play your best and hopefully you can save yourself.”
Both Bergeron and Gregory Campbell, who are coming off significant injuries, skated in practice Thursday, and neither reported any particular issues, even during one-on-one and two-on-two drills. “I felt it a couple times in one or two battles, but it doesn’t seem to linger after it,” said Bergeron, who had a broken rib and separated shoulder, among other things. “It just is there, stays for maybe 30 seconds or so, and goes away. I think it’s good news. I think I’m just going to have to go through that for a couple of weeks and then I’m going to be fine.” Bergeron added that the team’s medical staff wasn’t worried, and neither was he. For Campbell, coming off a broken leg, it was the first day he had participated in a practice at that level. He said that as the workout went on, he felt more comfortable on his skates. “I don’t feel as quick as I feel like I should be right now, but that will come,” he said. “I don’t think I was out of place, so that’s a good sign. I’ll just continue to build.” He added that he has been trying to push himself in practice as much as he is able . . . Daniel Paille skated with the usual fourth line — Campbell and Shawn Thornton — but Julien said he hasn’t written off the option to move him up to the third line.Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin @globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.