Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 5/22/12

In what comes as a surprise to almost no one, the Eastern Conference final with the rival Rangers has turned nasty. The players are going at it. So are the coaches.

Now, with the hating-the-other-guys quotient higher than ever, it's a best 2-of-3 series with the Rangers owning home ice for Games 5 (Wednesday night) and 7.

"Throughout a seven-game series," left wing/captain Zach Parise said after his two goals and an assist led the Devils to a 4-1 victory in Game 4 Monday Night, "both teams are going to get frustrated with things."

The Rangers had plenty to be frustrated at in Monday night's game, probably most notably Parise, who broke out of a scoring dip, setting up Travis Zajac for a first-period goal and then scoring twice in the third, once on a power play and then into an empty net (defenseman Bryce Salvador's seeing-eye flip shot found its way through a crowd and by Henrik Lundqvist for the first goal of the game).

"Your best players have to be your best players," coach Pete DeBoer said when talking about Parise. "I know it's cliche, but it's critical this time of year and I knew he would respond.

"He was playing well, getting opportunities. I thought he had some really good chemistry (Monday) with (Zajac and Dainius Zubrus, as the Devils shook up their top three lines for the game)."

The Ranger frustration boiled over when former Devil Mike Rupp, called for a penalty on what looked like a clean hit behind the New Jersey net, jabbed former teammate Martin Brodeur in the chest as he skated by the front of the net. There was also shouting between the coaches and numerous other less-than-friendly things going on.

Playoff hockey.

Between two teams with a past with each other. Two teams that, as they say, don't like each other.

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