Caron coming into his own

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Caron coming into his own

Those waiting for Jordan Caron to cool down might have to take a number and start grabbing for the nearest Snickers bar.

It looks like the 21-year-old Bruins winger wont be going anywhere for a while after another solid, strong performance in a 4-3 loss to the Washington Capitals Saturday afternoon at TD Garden.

Claude Julien raised an eyebrow or two when he trotted Brian Rolston out with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand for that lines first shift of the game, but Caron was quickly back skating on the right side with Bergeron and Marchand.

Bergeron was clearly on a mission carrying defenders in the offensive zone, winning key face-offs and holding off Washingtons best offensive forwards.

But Caron was right there alongside his fellow Quebec native.

Its just more confidence, and obviously a bit more playing time I think thats huge. When you feel you have the confidence of everybody, I think it gets you going and you feel more comfortable out there, said Caron. Right now its good, but we came up short a
little bit against Washington. Obviously were going to have a tough challenge tomorrow, so were going to have to bounce back and be ready to battle.

It was Caron that started the Bruins game-tying goal in the second period when he used his 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame like a battering ram, and caused a Washington turnover when he rushed Alex Ovechkin.

The Russian sniper quickly threw the puck back toward the defensive zone as Caron slammed into him in between the two benches along the side boards, and that allowed Marchand to turn it into a partial breakaway.

Marchand made a quick move with his hands that faked out Tomas Vokoun and gave the Bs agitator a five-hole target to shoot at, but make no mistake: that play was started by a physical Caron without the assist to show for it in the scoresheet.

Jordan made a great play to force Ovechkin and make him throw the puck away. It kind of bounced of the defensemans shin pad in open ice. I went in, tried to make a move, the five-hole opened up and I slid it in, said Marchand. Caron is playing really well right now.

He works very hard. Hes a big body and he controls the puck very well down by the net.

He seems to have a little confidence right now and we can feed off of that. We enjoy playing against the big lines and trying to shut them down. Caron is good defensively and he comes back hard and hes good positionally so he definitely contributes to the line.

The winger finally did extend his point streak to four games when he fired a shot at the net in the third period that turned into second-chance attempts for both Marchand and Johnny Boychuk. Boychuk finished things off for Bostons third goal, and gave Caron an assist for his seventh point in the last four games.

So the 2008 former first round pick, brimming with newfound confidence, continues to show all of the attributes that made him a top prospect and appears to have found a home among the top six forwards on the Bruins.

Eventually Julien settled on Rolston with Chris Kelly and rookie Lane MacDermid, and the top three line combos allowed Julien to match Bergeron, Marchand and Caron against Alex Ovechkin whenever his line headed to the ice. Caron was basically lined up against Ovechkin throughout the night, and the rookie helped keep Ovie quiet.

I thought Caron did a great job. He was lined up against Alex Ovechkin. Certainly we needed our third line as well to be good for us tonight. We moved up Lane MacDermid with Rolly Brian Rolston and Kellysome experience there, said Claude Julien. We did the best we could with our lineup and as far as Im concerned, I thought Caron did a good job. Hes a big enough body. When Ovechkin challenged him physically he was up to the task.

With Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley still out of the lineup -- and Horton just now resuming light activity without any timetable in place to get out on the ice the Bruins needed somebody to develop into an effective winger on the right side. While many thought it would be Rolston after the trade that brought him back into the Boston fold, its been Caron after a two-year apprenticeship with the Bruins thats given the youngster a world class hockey education.

As some point things were going to click in for Caron physically and offensively, and it appears that both are coinciding at exactly the right time for a young player looking to land himself a permanent spot in Boston. Caron still isnt quite there yet, but the prospects of a
roster spot being open to him on a stacked playoff squad have become much brighter in the last two weeks.

Spooner working on his draws to help become a more complete center

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Spooner working on his draws to help become a more complete center

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Ryan Spooner quickly ticked off face-offs as one big area that needed improvement headed into his second full NHL season with the Bruins and the speedy young center has most definitely put in the work thus far in camp.

Still, it didn’t translate in Spooner’s first preseason game in Wednesday night’s lopsided loss to the Red Wings as he finished 4-for-16 on the draw, and to add insult to injury: he also served a two-minute minor penalty for a face-off violation that led to a power-play goal. 

The skilled center made up for it at the other end by setting up a score for fellow speed-demon center Austin Czarnik as Boston’s only goal, but he was again back out on the Warrior Ice Arena sheet working on his draws again Thursday.

“I wasn’t great on my face-offs [against Detroit] trying to cheat a little bit too much. I think I just need to maybe just bear down a little bit more,” said Spooner, who finished at a very lackluster 42.8 percent success rate on face-offs last season. “[I need to] not try to win them clean, maybe just tie them up a little bit more. I was just trying to cheat on those [face-offs], and it didn’t work.”

Clearly, the draws were a contributing part of the problem in the rough loss to the Red Wings and it’s something Spooner will need to iron out before he’s fully trusted by the coaching in the nitty-gritty situations late in games. That was obvious at times last season. It’s something Spooner wants to change this season when there’s so much competition at the center spot, with Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, David Backes, Dominic Moore, Noel Acciari, Riley Nash and Czarnik all considered natural centers.

“When you start with the puck then the game is so much easier,” said B’s assistant coach Bruce Cassidy. “For Spooner [face offs] are important. I don’t want to speak for Claude [Julien], but he does have the luxury now of playing Spooner with guys that can take draws in his place if he wants to go down that road.

“At some point he’s going to have to improve [on the draw]. I think he wants to [improve on the draw] and he’s working at it, but the numbers aren’t where they need to be for him obviously. That’s the challenge Claude has going forward, but I think he can still get out on the ice and help you, even if he’s deficient in the face-off circle, and if he has some wingers that can help him.”

Spooner has employed veteran center Moore to give him some pointers while the two have worked out together in training camp and, in theory, it should be a big help for the young third-line center. Moore is one of those trusted veterans that is used in key face off situations with positive results, and is a left-shot player who can show the 24-year-old the exact techniques to help him.

Spooner said that getting face-off tips from Bergeron or Krejci had a limit to its helpfulness because those are right-handed centers doing the absolute reverse technique that a left-shot center would employ. Moore downplayed his role as a bit of a face off mentor, but the statistics, and his reputation on the draw would indicate he’s got plenty of knowledge to offer a second-year player.

“There are a lot of little things in the game, face-offs being one of them, that you learn through experience, and you want to try to pass it along to help make the team better,” said Moore. “[Spooner] is eager to try and improve a little bit every day. Part of face-offs is trying to get an edge any way that you can because they’re such a hotly contested thing.

“It’s definitely not easy, but if you have the right mentality then you try and build it up. You just have to approach it on a daily basis, commit to it and try to improve as best you can.”

Like so many things in life it would seem face-off ability is about putting in the work as much as it’s about natural-born skill and Spooner is putting in the hours to be a more complete center and trusted part of the team.

 

Bruins set roster for tonight’s preseason game in Detroit

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Bruins set roster for tonight’s preseason game in Detroit

The Bruins' lineup for Friday night’s preseason game in Detroit at Joe Louis Arena against the Red Wings will include players from both practice groups filling into a more veteran-laden B’s lineup in Motown.

The Matt Grzelcyk-Adam McQuaid pairing that wasn’t great on Wednesday night will get right back into it, and the John-Michael Liles-Brandon Carlo pairing that was so good on Monday night will get another look as well. Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, Anton Khudobin, Dominic Moore, Joe Morrow, Riley Nash and Ryan Spooner will be the established NHL veterans along with McQuaid and Liles suiting up for Boston’s first road exhibition of the preseason.

Here’s the entire lineup, with Boston now serving as one of the last NHL teams that is yet to make any cuts from their camp roster: Matt Beleskey, Anton Blidh, Brandon Carlo, Colby Cave, Peter Cehlarik, Brian Ferlin, Alex Grant, Seth Griffith, Matt Grzelcyk, Jimmy Hayes, Danton Heinen, Anton Khudobin, Jeremy Lauzon, John-Michael Liles, Zane McIntyre, Adam McQuaid, Dominic Moore, Joe Morrow, Riley Nash, Zach Senyshyn, Ryan Spooner.

The Bruins will be traveling to Philadelphia for another preseason game on Saturday and that may perhaps be the first time B’s fans get to see returning World Cup veteran players David Backes, David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask after they began practicing with the camp group on Thursday morning at Warrior Ice Arena.