BOSTON — A bad cold cost Benoit Pouliot a chance to return to Montreal last weekend. It may have cost him even more.
Pouliot practiced Wednesday after missing Saturday's game against the Canadiens and Tuesday's win over Ottawa at the Garden.
"I feel better now," Pouliot said. "It was tough. It was a long one. It was just a bad cold, but it's been a couple days now and I feel much better so hopefully it's on the right track.
"It's good that we don't play for a while," Pouliot added of the break in the schedule that has the Bruins practicing for three straight days. "Get the legs back, get everything back and hopefully by Saturday in Toronto I'll be ready."
But there might not be a spot in the lineup waiting for Pouliot. Jordan Caron returned to the lineup in Pouliot's absence and impressed Claude Julien with his effort Tuesday night. Caron didn't officially get credited with any assists, but he played a key role in two goals by creating screens in front.
"Caron deserved credit on both goals, both Johnny Boychuk's and [Chris] Kelly's," Julien said. "He was right in front of the goaltender and on both occasions the goaltender never saw a thing. Net-front presence for us is a big part of our game and we're starting to see more and more of that."
Caron still doesn't have a point this season and is a minus-2 in six games. But after a shaky start, he's played better of late and is putting pressure on Pouliot for the final spot up front.
"The thing in Jordan's case, putting him in one game and taking him another game, it's hard for a guy to get any momentum," Julien said. "So you have to give him a good look. From the game in Montreal to this game here [against Ottawa] he was a lot better. [It's] the little things. Jordan's not a guy that's going to be flashy and get those highlight reels going, but the thing he does do is those little things. He won a battle behind the net. He kept the puck in play. He went and supported on Boychuk's goal to the corner, when it went to the point he went right to the front of the net. All those little things really add up to being a pretty good player and I thought he did his job well [Tuesday] night."
Prior to his illness, Pouliot was struggling at many of those same little things. Pouliot has no points himself and is a minus-3 in eight games, though he does have 15 hits to Caron's six and 13 shots to just three for Caron and he remains confident he can get his game going.
"Obviously the points and the stats are not there, I think everyone knows that," Pouliot said. "But the way I'm working, the way I'm trying to figure out the systems and everything, I'm doing as much as I can and working as hard as I can. With work, things will fall into place. It's just a matter of getting a point and getting back your confidence and everything will be good."
Pouliot actually returned to practice on Monday and was on the ice for the optional morning skate on Tuesday, but after several days of little more than bed rest, he said he could not have played Tuesday night.
"I didn't feel I could," Pouliot said. "I had only been on the ice once or twice before that, so obviously I have to get some reps in, get the cardio back and everything. When you're not doing much you lose everything."
Pouliot lost his first chance to play back in Montreal, and it may have given Caron enough of an opportunity to cost Pouliot some playing time in the near future.
"I was hoping I would play in Montreal, but during that [Thursday] game here I didn't feel good at all," Pouliot said. "I could feel it coming. So it was unfortunate, but we play them enough so I'll get another chance."
Before he can worry about playing the Habs again, Pouliot will first have to earn a chance to get back in the lineup period.