WILMINGTON – A week ago Jordan Caron was on his way down I-95 to play in some games for the Bruins' Providence (AHL) farm club on a conditioning assignment.
He'd been scratched the previous seven games by Boston and needed to get some work in. He produced a goal and two assists in two games for the P-Bruins. The timing couldn't have been more perfect because after joining the Bruins on their two-game road trip Caron was forced into emergency action by the scratching of Tyler Seguin in Winnipeg for disciplinary reasons.
Now Daniel Paille's concussion, which head coach Claude Julien revealed Friday was diagnosed as mild, will open up another opportunity for the 21-year-old to show what he's got.
"Yeah, sure, everybody wants to play," said Caron after Friday's practice. "It's not very fun to see a guy get injured. I've just got to step in there and do my job."
"Of course, I think it would've been different if I hadn't played in like three weeks," he continued. "But I had a chance to play in Providence, so I felt pretty good out there in Winnipeg."
Read: Matt Kalman On CBSBoston
Caron held his own in 10:34 of ice time, mostly spent in Seguin's usual spot next to Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. All season long Caron has been in and out of the lineup – never playing more than seven games in a row – and has made a solid impression despite the difficult circumstances.
In 12 games, he's posted 1-2-3 totals with a plus-3 rating skating with a few different line combinations. Now it looks like he'll fill Paille's usual spot alongside Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton.
"Good," said Julien about Caron's ability to perform with sporadic ice time. "I think those two games he played in Providence helped him. I didn't mind his game in Winnipeg. So, again, he hasn't played in three days, so I don't think he'll be too too rusty. I think he'll handle it well. I didn't really mind his game in Winnipeg. He had a good scoring chance, played well positionally and physically he played pretty strong on the puck."
On the one hand, playing with Campbell and Thornton isn't all that tough. They work together so well, you just have to complement them. Most of all, you have to work hard. But the Bruins count on their fourth line so much – and with Paille that trio performs its role so well – that someone like Caron has to make sure not to stick out as a weak link.
"I think they're two good players that work really hard," said Caron. "That's kind of my style too. You know keeping things simple and going to the net. We played together just before I was scratched, so it went pretty good."
Campbell drew a comparison between Paille and Caron.
"Thorty and I have played with a few different guys the last year in a bit. They're different players in a way, but they also have a lot of similarities in their game," said the veteran center. "They're solid, responsible players. Jordy's got some skill and offensive ability and works hard. He's a smart, young player. So he'll adjust well. He shows that he's capable of playing in different situations."
There's no timetable yet for Paille to return to action, so Caron could get a lengthy run in the lineup here. A lot has changed in a week.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com. He operatesTheBruinsBlog.net and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on twitter @TheBruinsBlog.
for more features.