Ryan Callahan held court at his locker as journalists asked for his thoughts about what had transpired on the Garden ice a few minutes after the Rangers’ 1-0 loss to the Devils Tuesday.

 

“We need to have a better start. I think that’s what hurt us the most,” Callahan said. “They came out with more speed, more intensity. At home we can’t let that happen. Unfortunately we did.”

 

Callahan’s statements were the reflection of a team that understands how general manager Glen Sather and coach John Tortorella envision the Rangers to be.

 

One of the subtexts to this Rangers season has been the group’s collective maturation. The Rangers are tied with Toronto as the NHL’s third-youngest team, with an average age of 26.5. In spite of their youth, the Rangers lead the Eastern Conference with 71 points heading into tonight’s match against the Lightning.

 

Marian Gaborik, the fifth-leading goal scorer in the Eastern Conference, is just 29 and he’s one of the veterans.

He and the rest of the team will get a chance to test that maturation in the wake of Tuesday’s controversial finish. Artem Anisimov, one of those young stars at 23, had a goal waived off with 3.5 seconds left that would’ve tied the game when Gaborik was called for goalie interference.

How the young stars grow from a call Tortorella angrily refused to even talk about will say a lot.



Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.