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Jesper Fast doing it all for Rangers

Versatile forward can do little, big things to help New York in playoffs

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Right wing Jesper Fast could be considered the New York Rangers' version of a Swiss Army Knife; he can do it all.

If a top-nine forward is struggling, losing focus in the defensive end or in need of a wake-up call, Fast will be called upon to replace him. 

If a line is losing its chemistry, Fast will be put on it.

If the Rangers need a forward who can help shut down a top line, Fast gets the call.

 

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Fast is so versatile, coach Alain Vigneault can use him in any situation and feel comfortable, and regardless of how he's utilized against the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs the Rangers will need him to keep it up.

"I know he's going to make the plays along the wall," Vigneault said. "I know he's going to get pucks deep. I know he's going to block shots in desperate times when that's the only play that you can do. He's a good asset for us. And not only that, if you remember in past playoffs I didn't hesitate at all to have him match up against a top line and he's always done a good job for us. He just gives us a little more ammunition and you have to use the ammunition the right way."

Using Fast in any way works for Vigneault because he doesn't try to be fancy. Fast would like to beef up his statistics, but not if it means abandoning his principles.

Video: NYR@SJS: Fast deflects Skjei's shot past Jones

"I take pride in the game I play," Fast said. "Even if I play with more skilled guys I just try to play my game, which is getting on the forecheck, getting the puck and taking the puck to the net if I can. Make a hit. Play smart. Use my speed."

Fast, though, would like to make more plays to generate scoring chances even if Vigneault isn't tasking him with doing that. He can do it too. He had 21 points (six goals, 15 assists) this season, and scored 10 goals last season. He had 34 points (17 goals, 17 assists) in 48 games for Hartford of the American Hockey League in 2014-15. He's not strictly a shutdown forward.

"They want me to play the right way, but still you want to be a guy who beats your guy one on one," Fast said. "There are periods during the season when you feel like you're getting some bounces so you want to try to get some more, but when you don't feel the bounces are with you, you just try to play simple. I probably need to take a little more chances in the offensive zone.

"Sometimes I feel like I play a little bit too safe, but that's just the way I play."

Video: CGY@NYR: Fast buries Miller's feed from one knee

In Fast's case safe is better because it keeps him on the ice to play nearly 14 effective minutes per game, exactly what the Rangers need from him to gain an advantage against Montreal.

"He's kind of a pest," Rangers center Kevin Hayes said. "If I was on the other team he would be annoying to play against because he's always in your face forechecking and backchecking."

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