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The Rangers are the new Devils

Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist celebrates with his teammates

Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist celebrates with his teammates after shutting out the Vancouver Canucks at Madison Square Garden. (Jan. 13, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

It's not just because they snapped the Canucks' 17-game point streak with last night's stirring, 1-0 win -- the one that not even John Tortorella thought was possible -- but the way the Rangers controlled a game against the NHL's hottest team.

It was Lamoriello-esque, really. With a couple of exceptions, the Rangers have become what their one-time coach, the quotable Colin Campbell, used to call the Devs during Jersey's heyday: They are pretty much an interchangeable flock of forwards.

There is more talent in certain areas than others. But Tortorella has at least half a dozen guys he could send out as shutdown forwards; he does really only have Marc Staal and Dan Girardi to do that on the back end -- there's no Scott Niedermayer/Brian Rafalski pair to supplement the Scott Stevens/Ken Daneyko duo as the Devils once had. But those Devils were a bit ahead of these Rangers.

This is a young, young group, but how many Ranger fans thought the Mike Sauer/Steve Eminger pair would give up a good scoring chance in the final minutes? Or a mixed and matched forward line with Chris Drury, Artem Anisimov and Derek Stepan?

For a few years here, even post-lockout when things were way better than they had been, wins were still more on Henrik Lundqvist and a few talented guys up front.

What Tortorella has helped build is a way of playing -- "the right way," he likes to call it -- that can endure.

The Rangers may not grind their way deep into the playoffs; as the Devils had discovered in recent years, all that hard work during the season only pays off if you can find a second gear in the postseason. That's when Marian Gaborik won't be able to float for stretches, when the power play can't falter for a week or when Lundqvist has to be fit and formidable.

But this team has learned how to get there. It's the sort of thing that's never been seen around here.

It's the Ranger Way, and it was on full display last night.

New York Sports