GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- That last big fork in the road had the Rangers choosing Alain Vigneault to replace John Tortorella as coach, and for the first eight games this season, the team looked a bit lost.
Now that the Rangers have won three straight and six of seven and have sneaked above .500 at 9-8, maybe it was just a matter of having an adjustment period.
The long season will tell, but so far . . .
With a new coach, defenseman Ryan McDonagh said: "It's [a change in] strategy a little bit, but obviously it's personality. How he approaches what happens when a team is slumping. How does he react when a team is playing well?
"It's if he continues to bring passion and the same detail-work aspect to preparation, regardless if things are going badly. What you like to see, as a hockey player, is not giving up on you when you're slumping, and not letting you relax for a second when things are going well.''
Once the puck drops -- the Rangers play the similarly recovering 5-7-5 Devils Tuesday night at the Garden -- it's still hockey, Henrik Lundqvist said, but a new coach causes change in "a little bit of everything," he said.
"The way they coach, the way we practice, the way they talk, the way they approach the game. This game is about detail, so every little thing is a little different.
"It's important to stay patient, and throughout this process, [the new staff] has been patient, and still confident we can do this and find our game . . . It seemed they understood the big picture."
Vigneault had coached 11 years in the league, for Montreal and Vancouver, but coming to New York, "I basically didn't know anybody," he said. "So when you have the lack of immediate success, the players are looking for direction.
"In any line of work, everybody wants to succeed and do a good job. If you, as the manager or coach, can give the type of direction that's going to make a player or a team have success and look good, players will follow."
So far, the Rangers are taking Vigneault's road.
Notes & quotes: Vigneault and Chris Kreider said Kreider's late cross-checking penalty on Florida's Scottie Upshall on Sunday night was a result of Kreider "trying to get to the bench" and not intended to hurt Upshall. There was no league investigation of the matter.