Rangers rookie Jesper Fast has made quick believer of coach Alain Vigneault
PHOENIX - The first new nickname of the season? Alain Vigneault has dubbed Swedish rookie Jesper Fast "Quickie.''
It's pronounced YES-PER, but Vigneault confessed: "I had a hard time with Jas-per, Jes-per, so it was: "Quickie, that's you!''
The 21-year-old right winger made his NHL debut Thursday night after impressing Vigneault and the rest of the coaching staff with his skill and savvy and making the roster.
Vigneault said he won't offer any advice to Fast, who played in Sweden last season.
"Some guys need to be left alone because of the nature of the game and the nature of their personality,'' he said. "Both the young guys that we have, whether it be Quickie or [J.T.] Miller, I want our leadership guys to help those guys out with their preparation. This is a group that's got some great strong leaders and I want them to help us in that area.''
Fast's relatives and friends back home in Sweden were expected to be awake at 4 a.m. to watch his NHL debut, he said.
"On the sports channel, every day there's one NHL game,'' he said. "We see the Rangers pretty often.''
That's because of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, he acknowledged. But maybe Fast will gain a small following.
"He's a really mature kid,'' said Brian Boyle, who centered a line with Fast and Taylor Pyatt. "He's impressed pretty much everybody, how well he's come in and learned so much, soaked up a lot of things. I'm excited to play with him. He keeps getting better. He could be a weapon for us. We'll see where it goes.''
Fast said it is helpful to have Boyle and Pyatt as linemates. "They communicate on the ice, which I need,'' he said.
After the morning skate Thursday, Fast sat alone in one corner of the locker room but displayed few indications that he was nervous.
"It was a special feeling to wake up today,'' he told reporters. "You play all your life to have this dream to play in the NHL.''
How did he sleep? "Pretty good, actually,'' he said.
Butterflies for AlainVigneault, who has been a head coach for 10 seasons in the NHL and an assistant coach for four years, said he would have some butterflies.
"For me and the rest of our staff, it's the first game of the regular season and it's our first game for the New York Rangers, and for me, as big as my first game with the Habs or my first game with Vancouver after six years not being in the league. I'm very excited and very nervous, too.''
Blue notesForward Arron Asham and defenseman Justin Falk were healthy scratches. Ryan Callahan (shoulder) skated but won't be ready until at least Monday against Los Angeles. Carl Hagelin (shoulder, long-term injured reserve) didn't make the trip . . . The last four games between the Rangers and Coyotes were decided by a goal, two in shootouts . . . Based on opening night rosters, the Rangers rank 13th in average height, 21st in weight and 15th in age among the 30 teams.