By Matt Calamia
When Jesper Fast entered the Rangers locker room following the team’s morning skate Monday at Madison Square Garden, he saw a swarm of media members surrounding nearly every stall.
“Shocked,” said Fast, with a smile, when asked what he was thinking seeing both local and national — U.S. and Canadian — reporters crowding the room.
Fast, who has played all seven of his NHL games on the road, finally gets to skate at MSG tonight when the Rangers take on the Montreal Canadiens.
“It’s special,” Fast told BlueshirtsUnited.com. “I’ve been in New York once before, but [this is] first time [playing] here in New York. Great building, great city. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Through seven games, Fast, 21, has been used in a defensive role under head coach Alain Vigneault, something he’s embracing despite his history as an offensive player in Sweden.
“The first thing when I’m up here is to play smart, don’t make any mistakes,” Fast said. “That’s the first thing I think about. Of course I want to create more offense when I’m out there. I’m used to that in Sweden. It’s a new game here. You have not too much time with the puck here.
“If I get more comfortable out there, hopefully I can get more offense,” he added.
Part of that defensive role has been being one of the team’s penalty killers. Through seven games, he’s averaging 1:48 per game on the penalty kill.
“It’s a good feeling that they trust me out there on the penalty kill,” said Fast, who added that he killed penalties during his time in Sweden. “I think I’ve been pretty good on the penalty kill. Just keep doing what I’m doing.”
Thus far, the coaching staff appears to be on board with Fast — nicknamed “Quickie” by head coach Alain Vigneault — and the young forward hopes to stick to his game.
“I just have to take advantage of [the opportunity] and … do the right thing out there,” Fast said. “Be at the right spot and read the play. I think that was one of the reasons I was on the roster from the beginning.”