WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The Bruins were back at practice Monday as owners of the best penalty kill in the NHL with a 93.1 percent success rate.
Amazingly, a major part of the early success on the penalty kill can be credited to the play of rookie Jordan Caron, who has become a regular on the PK units early on in this 2010-11 season. Since drafting the Sayabec, Quebec, native with the 25th pick at the 2009 NHL draft, the Bruins have been impressed by his hockey instincts and puck smarts. They also have liked his maturity and the way he handles himself on and off the ice.
But one thing the Bruins wanted to see coming into this season was if Caron could keep up with the skating at the NHL level. Caron hasn't disappointed and his skating has earned him a spot on the penalty kill and increased ice time.
"He's always been a mature player from the perspective of being responsible," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said of Caron. "His skating has always been good but it has improved enough that he can be an effective PK guy. Now you see him and he stops and starts and he's doing the things you're supposed to do on the PK. It's surprising because I wasn't sure his skating was where it needed to be, but it has been. I knew he had the puck sense and instinct, but it has been his skating that has made him even more valuable on the PK."
Coach Claude Julien cites Caron's improved skating as well, and said he is impressed with the dedication the 19-year-old has put into that area of his game.
"He's come up from junior hockey where he's been used to playing at a certain pace and now he's caught onto it here and he's been able to maintain it," Julien said. "We talked about him maybe having one subpar game in training camp and we thought maybe it was due to fatigue, and it obviously was because he picked it up again."
Caron said he worked hard with his trainers in Montreal over the summer, with a heavy emphasis on power skating, and it has paid off so far in his rookie season.
"That was my big issue before and I really worked hard this past summer to improve my skating and quickness," said Caron, who has three even-strength goals. "I'm feeling more comfortable out there and my skating has really helped me on the PK."
The fact that Julien is confident in him and trusts him enough to use him so much on the penalty kill has given Caron even more confidence.
"It's great and that shows me a lot of confidence from them," Caron said. "It's much easier that way when you know the coach has confidence in you."