Carl Hagelin a man in a hurry for Rangers

Carl Hagelin #62 of the Rangers celebrates his Carl Hagelin #62 of the Rangers celebrates his first-period goal against the Montreal Canadiens during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, May 22, 2014. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

advertisement | advertise on newsday

For the Rangers, who got the early lead in the Eastern Conference finals against the Montreal Canadiens, the idea has been to hurry up and get the thing over with. And when it comes to the tyranny of speed, swift forward Carl Hagelin, his long hair flying, has the ability to rule.

Hagelin, flying, scored the first goal in Game 4 with the Rangers shorthanded. Later, his pass set up the overtime goal by Martin St. Louis that gave the Rangers a 3-1 lead in the series.

Through five games, Hagelin was tied with St. Louis for the team lead in goals with six.

And he sees some irony in the fact that, if you took his skates away, he probably wouldn't be the fastest fellow on the ice.

"I think I'm a better long-distance runner than on a dash," he said. "We ran a lot as kids with the hockey team, and I played soccer, but I've never done any track and field.

"As a kid, I was very tiny,'' said Hagelin, who appears smaller than his listed 6 feet. "I was quick, but over longer distance on the ice, I usually got beat. It wasn't until I was 16, 17 that I actually got better speed from goal line to goal line. Before, it was just blue line to blue line, or blue line to red line."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Another surprise to him is that he is playing in the National Hockey League.

When he left his native Sweden for the University of Michigan, "I went to college just hoping to play four years there and be a starter for four years," Hagelin said. "Then I wanted to get in the AHL and just do as well as possible there and hopefully get a chance."

He spent only 17 games with Connecticut in the AHL before the Rangers summoned him to the big club. Still, "I can't say I was thinking of playing in the NHL my whole life," he said.

And the Rangers' success this season . . . how does he explain it all? "When we make the passes we're supposed to, we're able to skate, and when we're able to skate, we play well."

And: "Sometimes you get that lucky bounce and that gets your team going. But you can't skate around waiting for puck luck. It's important to earn it."

You also may be interested in: