Win or lose, it could very well be a night that makes New York Rangers fans happy, specifically the portion that has called for head coach Alain Vigneault’s ousting.
With Vigneault’s job potentially on the line, the Rangers will take on the expansion Vegas Golden Knights for the first time at Madison Square Garden (7:00 PM, MSG).
The Rangers (3-7-2) are coming off yet another heartbreaking loss, a 5-4 defeat at the hands of the equally disappointing Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night. The loss featured a valiant comeback, as the Rangers erased a 3-0 comeback to tie the game at 4-4 in the third period, but Phillip Danault’s second goal of the night put the Rangers away. Top scorers Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich scored their seventh and fourth goals of the season respectively, while Brady Skjei and Rick Nash also added a goal each. The Rangers were done in early on by getting outshot 19-2 in the first period, where Montreal built their early lead.
The Golden Knights (8-2-0) have gotten off to what’s likely the hottest start for any expansion team ever, winning 8 of their first 10 games. Their torrid start hit a bit of a snag last night in Brooklyn, where they fell 6-3 to the New York Islanders. Continuing their bizarre goalie saga, the Knights lost Oscar Dansk to injury in the loss, forcing prospect Maxime Lagace into his NHL debut. William Karlsson and Alex Tuch gave the Knights a 2-1 lead with special teams goals, but they were unable to withstand five unanswered Islander goals, with two scored by John Tavares.
This will be the first time the Rangers face off against an expansion team since February 12, 2001, when they defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 at Nationwide Arena. Adam Graves broke a 2-2 tie, while Jan Hlavac put in the game winner. The Rangers do have a bit of a history in Vegas, having played in the first unofficial outdoor game in NHL history at Caesar’s Palace, an exhibition against the Los Angeles Kings. Doug Weight and Tony Amonte had the Ranger goals in what became a 5-2 defeat.
Numerous reports have circulated throughout the week that Vigneault may be given one game to figure out the Rangers’ recent struggles and that the Rangers have line up a replacement. The team has yet to make any official statements.
Tonight’s game also marks a reunion with Oscar Lindberg, the former Rangers whom Vegas selected in their expansion draft this past summer. Lindberg has four goals on the season thus far, including one in the Knights’ 7-0 victory over Colorado on Friday night.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490