Jan Rutta’s work on his off side is done. For now, anyway. He was back on his more comfortable and familiar right on Wednesday, partnered with Duncan Keith. But for the Czech defenseman who’s handled everything new well, it was one more adjustment that worked out.
Rutta moved to the left when Gustav Forsling suffered an upper-body injury against the Colorado Avalanche on Oct. 28. With Forsling expected to play against Philadelphia on Thursday night, coach Joel Quenneville switched up defensive pair combinations and moved Rutta back to the right.
The defensive changes didn’t end there on Tuesday: Connor Murphy, another guy who’s played on the right his entire career, was the latest to get a shot on the left side (pairing with Cody Franson). With eight defensemen healthy again, Michal Kempny and Jordan Oesterle look to be on the outside right now.
As for Rutta, the switch was fine but he’s happy to be back in his comfort zone.
“It definitely feels more natural for me. I mean, I didn’t mind playing on the left side, it was actually better than I thought,” Rutta said. “But it’s definitely for me to get back on the right side.”
In his short time with the Blackhawks Rutta has adjusted to everything well, from playing on the smaller North American ice to learning the Blackhawks’ system to switching sides. And any time you can show good versatility with a coach Joel Quenneville team, it doesn’t hurt you.
“I think it helps our team, helps our options, getting more familiar with that over the course of a game, a shift,” Quenneville said of Rutta’s switch. “Whether it’s an injury, a million things can happen where you have that option in your back pocket. It looks like it doesn’t change his game how he’s going to play, so that’s always a great sign. He handled it well so it’s a good option for us.”
Rutta has rolled with everything in his time here. He’s learned first-hand that, if necessary, you’ve got to adjust in a hurry. For him it worked and it will help him as long as he’s here. That said, he’s happy to be returning to what works best for him.
“Yeah, it was OK on the left side,” Rutta said “Of course I’m more comfortable on the right but the left was OK.”