Apr 2, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Rangers forward Jesper Fast (19) against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Rangers defeated the Wild 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
With the Eastern Conference Final now underway, forward Jesper Fast is quickly emerging as a key cog in the New York Rangers’ push for the Stanley Cup.
Throughout the last couple of seasons, Jesper Fast has been in and out of the New York Rangers lineup. He has been known to be a defensive minded forward, a player that would be great in a bottom-six role.
To be completely honest, I had no idea who the hell he was until the beginning of this year, and my dad could never pronounce his name correctly.
Well, all of that has changed as Fast has grown, and is still growing, into a pivotal player for the Rangers.
Fast doesn’t have one glaring strength other than his speed. His nickname, “Quickie”, suits him well as his legs are always moving and he can get to top speed quickly. He isn’t that big, he doesn’t have an overly hard shot, and he seems to have trouble scoring easy goals. But I could care less about all of that, because the young man is an absolute workhorse out there on the ice.
In my opinion, he is a faster version of former Rangers’ captain Ryan Callahan. Fast possesses all the qualities that made Callahan a fan favorite on broadway. Both players have a relentless work-ethic, incredible hockey sense, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to win.
New York Rangers
The one game about Fast that stands out to me is Game Two against the Washington Capitals. Fast was getting blasted all game by Alex Ovechkin, but he kept popping up from the ferocious hits and continued to play his game.
For most of the season, Fast was either on the Rangers third or fourth line. His best hockey (before the playoffs) came when he was paired with Kevin Hayes and Carl Hagelin. But after an injury to Mats Zuccarello forced Alain Vigneault to shuffle his lines, Fast was moved onto a line with Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider. The trio combined for six goals and thirteen points. Nine of those points came in Games 5-7, all elimination games. Obviously, the play Fast will be remembered for is the great play he made on a face-off in Game 7 that led to Stepan’s series clinching goal.
Against the Caps, Fast was on the ice a bunch against Ovechkin. This series, Fast, Stepan and Kreider will be matched up with the Tampa Bay Lightning’s “Triplets” line of Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, and Tyler Johnson, a line that has been the best in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Triplets had much better possession numbers in Game One, but the Fast line got a goal. Obviously, the Rangers will need Fast, Stepan and Kreider to have a better Game Two possession wise, but they should be up to the task.
Every year, the playoffs produce unlikely heroes. Last season, Brian Boyle, Dan Carcillo, and Hagelin emerged from the group as prime time players. If Fast continues to play like this, he will become a playoff hero. And if the Rangers do win it all, he will be remembered like some of the great role players from the 1994 team.
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