Julien: 'You have compassion for a guy like [Caron]'

Julien: 'You have compassion for a guy like [Caron]'
January 13, 2014, 11:00 pm
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WILMINGTON – Jordan Caron has missed the last four Bruins games with a stiff back, and it looks like he’ll be missing No. 5 when the B’s take on the Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday night at TD Garden. He practiced with the team on Monday morning at Ristuccia Arena, but Claude Julien didn’t seem all that optimistic about his availability to play at this point.

The 23-year-old Caron is a team-worst minus-5 and hasn’t scored a point since Oct. 5 – a stretch of 21 games over the last three months – while failing to make an impact while given to chance to play for the suspended Shawn Thornton over the last month. Despite the admittedly poor offensive production, Julien did come to the 2009 first round pick’s defense when asked about him following Monday’s practice.

Caron clearly isn’t living up to the first round billing, and doesn’t appear that he ever will in Boston. But the Bruins coach also sees a player that’s never really settled in while getting moved around between lines and players this season.

“He’s a guy that’s been bounced around from line to line, and from left to right,” said Julien. “At one point you have some compassion for a guy like that, who never gets to be on the same line and build chemistry with his teammates. It’s pretty easy from the outside to want to criticize him, but sometimes you need guys like that on your roster, who you can tell where to go and they’ll just go.

“He isn’t a guy that’s generated a ton offensively, but he’s done the job along the walls and been reliable defensively. He’s done exactly what needs to be done as far as that’s concerned. When you look at the stats it’s not impressive, but I understand what he needs to go through.”

In fairness, Caron did play the first 12 games in Thornton’s spot along the fourth line after he was suspended. He finished with zero points, a minus-4 rating and 18 shots on net. There was very little impact despite Caron’s willingness to play strong along the walls. Justin Florek was called up when more injuries hit the fourth line, and he had points in two of the three games he played before Thornton returned to his rightful right wing spot in the win over San Jose.

Florek’s strong, energetic performances underscored what was lacking in Caron’s game, and what he’ll need to bring if he gets another chance with the Black and Gold once he gets healthy.