Hunwick fine moving to right side

Ference could move too

September 27, 2009, 10:10 AM

By: Matt Kalman

BOSTON -- One of my favorite Elvis songs goes "I'm left, you're right, she gone."

For the 2009-10 Boston Bruins' season-opening defense corps, the song sounds more like which left is right and if he's able to stay there  as in which left-handed defenseman is going to be able to make the move to the right side and keep the Bruins' defense as air-tight as it was last season.

The Bruins came to camp with four left shots and two rights projected to make their opening night roster after the signing of righty Derek Morris. In last night's preseason finale, a 4-2 loss to Columbus at TD Garden, Matt Hunwick was the "off-wing" defenseman, with left-shooting Mark Stuart on his left. Zdeno Chara and Morris formed the top pair and lefty Andrew Ference and Dennis Wideman were the third duo.

The adjustment can be daunting to some, but Hunwick's confident that if he has to keep playing on the right, he'll be able to handle it.

"It's just a little bit different, but I think you can always adjust. Good players can make that transition," said Hunwick, who was also on the right side Friday night in Ottawa.

Hunwick spent some time on the right side in college, where he was often paired with current Los Angeles Kings blueliner Jack Johnson, who spent the bulk of the time playing on the right. The biggest disadvantage to playing with ones stick positioned to the middle of the ice is on breakouts, where using the boards can be a huge aid. But there can be some bonuses to it.

"Any time when you're in the offensive zone and you can walk toward the middle on your forehand, it's definitely an advantage whether you're shooting or making plays. You can see the ice, you're not dragging it and skating backwards," said Hunwick.

"As far as playing defense, I don't actually mind playing the right side because with guys cutting to the outside, just the way that my body works out with my stick being in my right hand, on the right side I have a little bit longer reach back toward the net."

With Stuart at his best on the left side and head coach Claude Julien less prone to move Chara -- he has said doesn't want to weaken the NHL's best defenseman -- the other candidate to be a lefty on the right is Ference. The veteran has no problem if he's asked to make the move because he's played on both sides throughout his career.

"The right-hand side is better in the offensive zone. Some breakouts, it's better," said Ference. "Taking the rush, playing defense against the rush. The left side is better in the neutral zone -- a lot better for D-to-D plays and working around the trap." Obviously all the left-handers would prefer playing the right side to the alternative -- sitting in the press box to let righty Johnny Boychuk get in the lineup. So there probably won't be any public griping about position shifting. And it'll only become a real issue if moving from left to right turns out to be wrong.


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