New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers (-130, 4.5)
THE STORY: The gloves have finally come off - both figuratively and literally - in the Eastern Conference finals, with the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils all square heading into Game 5 Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. The Devils' Game 4 victory was punctuated by the first fight of the series, and an incident that saw the Rangers' Mike Rupp deliver a stiff-arm punch to the chest of New Jersey netminder Martin Brodeur. Lost in the rough stuff was a sensational performance by Devils captain Zach Parise.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBCS, CBC
ABOUT THE DEVILS: Parise was the best player on either side of the ice in Game 4, scoring twice and adding a beautiful setup on Travis Zajac's first-period goal. Yet, as good as he was, Parise himself seemed more pleased with his team's discipline after the Rangers threatened to escalate things. ''It's not the way we play, as we showed against the Flyers," said Parise, whose Devils eliminated Philadelphia in round two. "We do a good job of staying out of that and playing disciplined. That has worked well for us, so far." New Jersey is expected to stick with the exact lineup that prevailed on Monday.
ABOUT THE RANGERS: Rupp doesn't believe any of the incidents from Game 4 - his punch of Brodeur included - will carry over into Wednesday's pivotal fifth game. ''I don't think it's anything that I need to let go or our team needs to let go," he said. ''We're focused on a three-game series, and we've got two of those games at home. We're confident in that. We faced that the first two rounds, so we're going to go at it the same way.'' Rangers head coach John Tortorella, who engaged in a shouting match with Devils counterpart Peter DeBoer at one point, held a mandatory practice Tuesday to get his players back on task.
*Devils are 6-0 in their last six games playing on one day's rest.
*Rangers are 16-6 in their last 22 games following a loss by 3 or more goals.
*Home team is 5-2 in the last seven meetings.
*Under is 6-2-2 in the last 10 meetings in New York.
1. Parise's two-goal effort equaled his output from the previous 11 games.
2. Brodeur recorded an assist Monday to become the first goaltender in NHL history to record four points in a single postseason.
3. Rangers F Marian Gaborik, who finished third in the league with 41 goals in the regular season, is still looking for his first point of the series.