Jesper Fast’s injury impact will take its toll on minimal forward depth

The Rangers couldn’t afford injuries. Now with Jesper Fast possibly out for an extended period of time, the impact sends ripples down the lineup. The winger played just one shift before being leveled by Brady Skjei. The Rangers gave up a goal on the shift and Fast didn’t return. The Rangers played with 11 forwards and were pretty anemic on offense.

Given the new rules, the Rangers won’t be publishing Fast’s injury status. He will just be “unfit to play” for however long this lasts. There’s a lot of speculation that it was a concussion, given how lost Fast looked on the shift. But that’s all speculation. What isn’t speculation is that there is a significant chance Fast doesn’t play tomorrow in Game 2. The Blueshirts didn’t have much forward depth to begin with, and this injury just brings this to focus.

Minimize Impact

If the goal is to minimize Jesper Fast’s injury impact, then moving Kaapo Kakko up to the second line seems to be the next logical step here. Kakko plays a different game than Fast, so that’s not necessarily a guarantee to work. In this scenario, the Rangers would need someone with offensive skill to replace Kakko on the third line. The natural choice, again to avoid impact throughout the lineup, is to see what Vitali Kravtsov can do in a third line role. This would leave the fourth line relatively untouched.

Another option is to move Brett Howden to 3RW, which is not the best option. Given how poorly Howden has played in any role, leaving him on the fourth line is the best bet. However David Quinn has this infatuation with Howden, so this is a realistic option. Hopefully this one doesn’t come to fruition.

Blow It Up

The Rangers didn’t have set lines after Fast’s injury, so a total retool could be an option as well. This isn’t the best option either, as the Rangers have some chemistry up and down the lineup. In theory, the KZB line stays the same, but that’s it. We saw a Panarin-Chytil-Kakko line at moments last game, which is quite possibly the 2nd line next year. That leaves a hodgepodge of options for the bottom six.

Ryan Strome, in this case, would try to carry the third line with Phil Di Giuseppe and whomever Quinn deems appropriate for that line. It could be Kravtsov, it could be Julien Gauthier. It could be Howden. The rest of the options would make up the fourth line.

In this scenario, expect the lines to be thrown into a blender for much of the series. It could work, maybe?

Ride It Out For A Game

Brendan Lemieux’s suspension only lasts one more game. It’s safe to assume he would return in a fourth line role when that is up. In this case, the Rangers riding this out for a game, using option #1 above, is the best course of action.

In this scenario, Kakko moves up to the second line where he most likely stays. Given how well Gauthier has played, he’s earned a role on that third line with Chytil and Di Giuseppe. Lemieux would go to the fourth line with Howden and McKegg.

This would require the Rangers to figure it out for Game 2, which likely means a pro debut for Kravtsov for at least one game.

No matter which way you slice it, Jesper Fast’s injury impact is tough to manage for the Rangers. For everything to work out for the Blueshirts, they needed to stay healthy. Now, they will need to find some chemistry, and find it fast.

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    • Are you from the North Country/Adirondacks?

      Agreed about that Skjei being dealt.. Though I’m from the eye to eye era. Hs didn’t allow to fight and sometimes in youth it wasn’t worth it. This was why I was confused with how the ref called the game yesterday. Panarin cross check Skjei right after that hit, but yet the ref made zero call on that. In a nutshell they kept the overall tempers pretty chill.

      I think the team should target one of their top players. Aho to decrease their PP/PK/5v5 or Williams aka their heart and soul.

      Then again is it smart for this team to play that way? It might feel like a knife(Carolina) to a nerf gun fight (NYR) if the boys aren’t ready for that 24/7 smash mouth hockey.

  • Kakko moving to the 2nd line, and being replaced by Kravtsov makes so much sense, that DQ can’t miss it, or am I wrong? Gauthier, Chytil, and Kravs would be a nice line as well, even with Kravs on the off wing. Time will tell, but whatever we do, Howden can’t be anywhere but on the 4th line!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Kravtsov is just on the roster to give him the flavor of the playoffs. He isn’t close to an NHLer at this time. We are almost certain to see Fogarty, but either Gettinger or O’Regan would be a better choice than Kravtsov. Haley is also on the roster, but I think he is still injured.

      Of course, if Shesty can’t play, it doesn’t matter anyway and maybe it is best to get Kravtsov some playing time.

      • Ray

        I’m looking at the potential that the kid possess’, and it could work wonders for the kids mind frame for next season.

        Don’t be supersized next season if the kid makes the team out of camp, and is a starter.

        I could see your point about Gettinger due to his size, maybe also to throw the body around some more???????????

    • Walt, I don’t think that Krav sees the ice this series. I think that Krav is there purely for the experience.

      I could be wrong but I would be shocked if Fogarty is not in next.

      • Agreed Ritch. Rangers don’t have the center depth to test out wingers like Kravs unfortunately.

        • Plus, I don’t think DQ has the stones to put in such an inexperienced player for a series like this.

      • Tony

        You may be right, but Kraves has so much more to offer than does Fogarty.

        Think about this for a minute, Kraves came here, and missed his sisters wedding just for the experience? I think he may have been offered something in order to come here, like a legitimate shot at seeing some ice time, but I could be wrong??????????????????????????????

        • Walt, I am saying who I think that DQ will put in, and he’s not putting in an inexperienced player like Krav in this series, IMO.

          If you’re asking me, then 100% then it should be Krav. I just don’t see DQ having the stones to do it.

          Fogarty is a terrible player but he has NHL experience, so…

  • If the Rangers pull the upset, than be prepare to face the Philadelphia Flyers. They’re up 3 goals in the middle of the 3rd. Not a good first round matchup at all!! They’re making the best team in the league with the best line and PP look like the the Carolina vs NYR game 5.0.

    I rather see a top 3 draft pick.

  • Figures it had to be Skjei. Too bad he never hit like that when he was on the Rangers. If he had, he might still be playing for them.

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