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Monday, October 18, 2010
B's youngsters have struck quickly

By Joe McDonald
ESPNBoston.com

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- One of the first things Jordan Caron did after the Boston Bruins selected him with their first pick (25th overall) in the 2009 NHL entry draft was watch the game film of his first goal.

He can't remember the name of his team, or if he was 3 or 4 years old, but he does recall the colors of his hockey sweater.

Jordan Caron
Jordan Caron didn't have to wait long before celebrating his first NHL goal; it came in his third game.

"Bruins colors," Caron said after Monday's practice at Ristuccia Arena. "It was black, white and gold. My first goal ever was in a Bruins jersey."

Caron doesn't remember scoring the goal, but he has watched the video many times.

"It was a shot from the slot that stayed on the ice and it went slowly in the net through the goalie's pads," he said. "There was no fist pump, I skated right to the bench and gave [high fives] to the guys."

History repeated itself for Caron on Saturday night against the New Jersey Devils.

The rookie forward notched his first NHL goal at 5:38 of the second period against future Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur, tying the game 1-1.

Caron was camped out in front of the Devils' net, setting a screen for teammate Johnny Boychuk's slap shot from the point. Brodeur made the initial save, but Caron pounced on the rebound and slid it past the netminder for the tally.

The Bruins won 4-1, and Caron has had a few sleepless nights since.

"It was great. I couldn't sleep much that night," he said. "It was a great feeling and I haven't slept much the last couple of days. Now I need to focus on Washington now. I need to keep playing hard and I want to score more than one."

The Bruins face the Capitals on Tuesday.

Caron's first NHL goal will always be special for the Quebec native, especially scoring it against Brodeur, who hails from Montreal.

"It was a dream come true," Caron said. "He's a great goalie, maybe one of the best ever. He's from Montreal and we're both French. I remember watching him win the Stanley Cup a few years ago, I was 12 or 13 years old, and now to score my first goal against him is a great feeling."

Bruins veteran Mark Recchi, another future Hall of Famer, scored his first NHL goal on Jan. 20, 1989, as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 7-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, who had Pokey Reddick in net. More than 20 years later, he knows how special the moment was.

"Oh, it was great," Recchi said of his goal. "We ended up losing, so it was bittersweet. I remember it like it was yesterday."

Recchi was 20 at the time, and Caron was still 10 months away from being born. Caron turns 20 on Nov. 2, and Recchi believes the rookie will have a successful career.

"It's great for him. He's a great kid and he's worked hard," Recchi said. "It's nice to see him get that first one. It was a pretty special guy to get it against, too."

In the early going for the Bruins, the play of Caron and Tyler Seguin has been noteworthy. There will be growing pains as both continue to hone their skills, but they're already proving capable of playing at this level.

Seguin netted his first NHL goal last weekend in a 3-0 win over the Phoenix Coyotes in Prague.

"It's definitely nice to get that first one out of the way," Seguin said. "Obviously, I wanted to get the first game, first goal and first assist out of the way, so now I can focus on the little things and try to make the team better."

When asked if he remembered his first goal as a kid, the 18-year-old Seguin asked, "You mean way back in the day?"

Yeah, way back when.

"The first thing I remember from my minor hockey days is playing in net. We lost 10-1 and I let in all these five-hole goals," Seguin said.

It was clear he had to switch positions.

Bruins forward Blake Wheeler produced in a big way during his rookie season in 2008-09. He scored his first NHL goal in his first game, on Oct. 9, 2008, against the Colorado Avalanche. He finished the season with 21 goals and 24 assists in 81 games.

Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron, 25, was an 18-year-old rookie for Boston when he notched his first NHL goal on Oct. 18, 2003, against Los Angeles Kings goaltender Roman Cechmanek.

"I'll be honest with you. It seems like it's a long time ago, but at the same time it seems like it was yesterday," Bergeron said. "Time flies and that's what I told Jordan and Siggy because it goes so fast."

Bergeron and Caron have been skating on the same line, along with Wheeler, and the trio is showing solid chemistry.

Caron is similar to Bergeron. Both are highly skilled French-Canadian players who broke into the NHL as teenagers.

"I think he's improved a lot," said Bergeron. "He has some confidence and he's a great guy. He's down to earth, but also very mature for his age. He's handling himself real well and he's doing a great job."

Getting that first goal out of the way isn't always easy.

Just ask Bruins forward Brad Marchand.

The second-year Bruin is always one of the first players on the ice prior to practice. The gnat-like winger/center brings a milk crate filled with pucks out with him and dumps them near the top of the left faceoff circle at the end of the team's practice rink closest to the locker room. He's a left-handed shot and will snap off numerous shots, trying to hit the far post.

It's a drill the 22-year-old practices often.

He has played a total of 23 NHL games and has yet to score his first goal.

"It's tough. It can really wear on your mind," Marchand said. "The biggest thing is you can't think about it too much because at the end of the day there's a lot more to the game than just scoring goals. If you do all the little things right and keep working, then you'll eventually get it. It definitely wears on your mind even though you don't want it to."

Bruins coach Claude Julien continually tells the pesky forward he needs to take the puck in toward the goal more often and continue to crash the net and look for rebounds. Marchand has been playing well, so it's only a matter of time before he nets one.

All the young Bruins players are contributing in a big way so far. With injuries to key players, including Marc Savard (post-concussion syndrome) and Marco Sturm (knee), Caron, Seguin and Marchand are getting the opportunity to impress.

They've made the most of it.

"Sometimes you need some fresh kids in here," Seguin said with a smile. "There are a lot of experienced vets in here, and it's nice to have a mix. I think everyone treats each other pretty well. As rookies, we're pretty honored to be with the guys in this dressing room. It's been a great experience."

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.