New York Rangers: Jesper Fast having a breakout year after injury

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 05: Boo Nieves
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 05: Boo Nieves /
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The New York Rangers are finally playing good hockey. This is definitely in part due to Jesper Fast’s breakout season following his recovery from hip surgery.

Jesper Fast was in danger of getting drafted by the Las Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft. While it was obviously disheartening to see the skilled Oscar Lindberg taken, it worked out in the New York Rangers’ favor to have him taken instead of Fast.

While it may not have seemed this way to start the season, Fast has become a vital part of this iteration of the Rangers’ hockey club. It’s not in the conventional stats that his true worth shines, though. It’s in the little plays that don’t show up in the box score.

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Fast deserves recogniation for all the little things that he does in his game that has helped the once 2-7-2 Rangers to just outside of a playoff spot with games in hand.

The Stats

To start, we’ll take a look at the stats (although, remember that they don’t tell the whole story). This season, Fast has five goals and seven assists for 12 points in 22 games. He also had the first multi-goal game of his young career in the Rangers’ 6-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.

Most recently, he scored the Rangers’ goal that tied the game at two against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 4-3 win. He found the puck at the front of the net and stuffed in a rebound. His positioning and willingness to go to the dirty areas helped the team win an important divisional game.

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The Little Things

However, where his true value lies is in the puck battles he wins in the corners. He keeps the puck in the offensive zone or clears the defensive zone on a nightly basis. Fast also keeps the momentum going with his quick transition speed.

What must be remembered is that he compliments the physical and energy play with solid defense. His speed allows him to get back fast enough (no pun intended) to back check and win puck battles.  Fast also sacrifices his body to block shots with outright bravery.

He’s also a great neutral-zone player. Small passes that get the puck in the offensive zone don’t end up getting announced with the goal, but they get plays started.

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And finally, Fast is  is one of the Rangers’ best forecheckers. In fact, he’s one of their only forecheckers at all. The team doesn’t place emphasis on that aspect of their play, but Fast makes up for it with his tenacity and energy.

The praise to Fast is much deserved. He is a major reason for this team’s recent success, and they should be thankful every day that he’s on their roster and not in the desert.