New York Rangers: Alain Vigneault's Fate Could Ride On Next Two Games 2
(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

If Alain Vigneault thought his job was safe after a win Tuesday, he better think again. He’s still very much on the hot seat.

Alain Vigneault avoided possibly getting fired by the New York Rangers with a 6-4 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights Tuesday night. Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported earlier in the week that if the Rangers lost that game they would let go of the head coach.

It would have been a bad look to fire the head coach after a win, especially a win on home ice.

Now the Rangers and Vigneault have their biggest test of the season going up against the best team in the NHL, the Tampa Bay Lightning. This game will show us who this Ranger team really is. Are they the team that beat the Western Conference champs earlier in the year? Or the team that was down 3-0 in the first period against Montreal?

Vigneault is hoping that his team is the team fans saw when Nashville was at the Garden, because if they aren’t, his job security may be in more jeopardy than it was coming into Tuesday.

What has yet to be seen from this team is the ability to go on a good run. The team has followed wins with poor stretches. After collecting their first win of the year, the team would go on to lose five in a row. After beating Nashville the Blueshirts’ put up a stinker against San Jose and you can’t forget how they played following a win over Arizona with that horrible start against Montreal.

The Rangers and Vigneault need to find a way to translate the good that they saw in the third period against Vegas and carry it over into a winning streak. That third period might have been the most dominant the Rangers have looked all season. It’s up to Vigneault to get that out of the team on a consistent basis if he is going to stay on board the remainder of the season.

If this team can come out against Tampa Bay and carry that momentum, then maybe the team can start to look for ways to improve instead of replacements for a coach.

Should the team come out and play them like they did in the first 40 minutes Tuesday night where Henrik Lundqvist faced a barrage of shots, the problem will have never gone away.

But that’s the thing, no one is expecting the Rangers to come out and beat Tampa Bay. If the Rangers make that game competitive and steal a game that they should have lost, that benefits Vigneault. They could then turn that win over Vegas into a winning streak.

After a matchup against Tampa Bay, the team then heads to Florida to face the Panthers who currently sit below them in the standings. This is the game that Vigneault should have circled on his calendar. A win over the underachieving Panthers also bodes well for Vigneault and all of sudden the team is back on the right path.

If the Rangers were to go 1-1-0 on this road trip, that bodes in Vigneault’s favor. If the team were to get three points, Vigneault should also feel good about where the team is heading. But, if the Rangers drop both games Vigneault and his job status will be right back to where it was prior to Tuesday’s game.

This just makes too much sense and is probably the easy way out should the team have a rough road trip. Let’s face it when a team is giving a coach one game to determine his fate, the organization isn’t showing much faith in the coach. With a bad road trip, the Rangers are justified in letting Vigneault go.

We will learn a lot about this Ranger team over the next few days. Historically under Vigneault, the Rangers have been a very good road team going 99-57-11. Road trips are usually where teams come together and this team has yet to two road games in a row. This bodes well for Vigneault, even though the team is currently 0-3-0 on the road.

Perhaps being in a hostile environment the Rangers can bring their game to start instead of having to climb out of an early hole.

No matter what happens this weekend, the fate of Alain Vigneault will be determined based on how his team fairs the next two games. He and the team are hoping it is positive.

Dominick is a graduate of Canisius College. He has covered the Rangers for the last seven seasons and the Yankees for the last four.