The hockey gods have not exactly been kind to Jordan Caron this season.

In his third year as a pro, this was going to be the forward's best chance to earn a regular spot in the Bruins lineup. The team had dealt away Benoit Pouliot in the summer, and Caron, a first-round draft pick in 2009, was the odds-on favorite to slip into the vacant position as the left winger next to center Chris Kelly and across from right winger Rich Peverley.

But first the 119-day lockout occurred and then, the night before the work stoppage ended earlier this month, Caron suffered a shoulder injury while playing in the AHL for Providence, keeping him out of action until last Saturday.

With Caron unavailable to start the NHL season, Chris Bourque has been skating as the left winger on the No. 3 line.

"Yeah, it was kind of bad timing," said Caron, who was at the Garden yesterday before the Bruins beat the New Jersey Devils, 2-1, in a shootout for some conditioning work while the AHL was still on its All-Star break. "But I'm glad to be back at 100 percent, I waited long enough and now I'm ready to play. We'll see what happens from here."

Even before the shoulder injury, it wasn't a sure thing that Caron would get the nod at the open spot.