BOSTON– Switching positions and making all kinds of different transitions can be hard to do, especially midway through a season. While making the transition from right to left wing might not seem like much of a big deal to the average fan, for Michael Ryder, it can mean a little bit of extra attention on the ice.
In a season where there have been the highest of highs and some pretty deep lows, it’s commonplace for a coach to try and switch up players, lines and in Ryder’s case, even positions–most recently an injury to right wing forward Milan Lucic.
“Yeah I think every game I get more and more [used to switching from right to left wing],” Ryder said. “I still sometimes have a tendency to go to the right side and they just remind me. During the game, you have to fill in for everybody and every game I get more used to it and I’m feeling comfortable with it.”
Ryder accounted for one of Boston’s two goals in Saturday afternoon’s losing effort against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was one of the more effective players on the ice throughout the game. Filling the void left by an injured Milan Lucic, Ryder held the line with Marc Savard and Nathan Horton.
Tallying up seven shots on net–tied for first in that category with Dennis Seidenberg–Ryder had a number of opportunities that cleared Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury, but didn’t find the back of the net. But Ryder didn’t attribute his game play to being on the off-wing. While there were some logistical differences between the two sides, including receiving passes on different hands and taking shots, Ryder said, once you get into the offensive zone, you just have to be ready to play regardless of where you are.
“It doesn’t matter where you play once you move your feet,” he said. “Things happen when you’re in the offensive zone, and you have to be ready to go all over the place.”
Despite a couple of mental miscues Ryder’s experienced, including catching himself leaving the left wing open and going right side, he enjoys some of the differences in his temporary position.
“It’s easier to step into the middle, and to be on your forehand to make that play,” said Ryder. “I like coming in like that. It’s easier for me to shoot that way too.”
This isn’t the first time Ryder has made the left wing his home either. He said back earlier in the year he played in a couple of games on the left side as well, and felt he made an impact then as well. According to head coach Claude Julien, his reasoning behind putting Ryder back there with Savard and Horton was because of his success in the past.
“We’ve used him there a few times, because he seems to shoot the puck well from his off-wing,” Julien said. “And I guess right now for me, I’ve seen a pretty good line and he’s seemed to adapt well.”