As the regular season nears its end for the New York Rangers, a new first line has emerged with an unlikely winger in Jesper Fast.
Quickie, as he is commonly referred as by his teammates, has been on a great run since joining the top line. It’s an unusual spot for him to play since he is more known for his defensive play on the third or fourth line, but brings much-needed balance to the top six.
Since he joined Kreider and Zibanejad, the two have combined for six goals and nine assists which included Kreider’s first four-point night Wednesday in an encouraging 4-3 overtime win against the Penguins and two separate two-goal games for Zibanejad, via Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post.
“Zibanejad is a guy that can do everything out there. He’s good on defense, good on faceoffs, brings all the offensive game. It’s a lot of fun. Chris, when he’s playing the way he is right now, he’s a difference-maker every game,”
Fast seems very comfortable playing on the top line. His natural defensive ability aids in his transition as he is already prepared to battle the top players on the opposing team. With his speed, he has no issues skating with Zibanejad and another quick hard-nosed player in Chris Kreider.
It makes one wonder why this experiment wasn’t tried earlier in the season?
Jesper Fast’s accomplishments since his promotion:
- Fast scored his career-high 13th goal of the season in Thursday night’s 4-3 loss to Philadelphia.
- It was the first time he has tallied three points in one game.
- He has now recorded eight points with three goals since he was moved to the line.
- He is in the midst of a seven-game point scoring streak in which he has nine points.
- Fast’s seven-game point streak is a career-high and is tied for the longest point streak a Ranger has posted this season.
As a unit, Kreider-Zibanejad-Fast has been on fire as they have registered 17 points in the last four games. The three have combined to score nine of the last 11 goals for the Rangers team.
The Chris Kreider-Mika Zibanejad-Jesper Fast line has registered 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) over the last four games (including tonight’s game), and the three players have tallied nine of the Rangers’ 11 goals over the span. #NYR
— NYR Stats & Info (@NYRStatsInfo) March 22, 2018
Head coach Alain Vigneault showcased enthusiasm for his newly-formed top line.
“Ever since I moved Quickie up with Mika and Kreids, they’ve been our best line five-on-five, creating zone time, creating shot attempts, creating scoring chances,” Vigneault said. “And they’ve been matched up against some of the best lines in hockey, and they’ve done a real good job for us.”
The Rangers have played much better over the past few games and though the wins haven’t been coming as much as the Fast would like, progress is being made.
“I’m not the guy who talks the most or the loudest,” Fast said, “but trying to lead by example, trying to be a good guy,”
The good guy just might have found a way to make the end of the season a lot more interesting.