Jamie Langenbrunner has good memories in a New Jersey Devils sweater.
Langenbrunner, traded to New Jersey during the 2002 season, led the league in goals and points during the 2003 Stanley Cup playoffs, which ended with another championship for the Devils. He also served as team captain for most of his tenure, until he was traded to the Dallas on January 7 of last season.
Langenbrunner will make his return to Prudential Center tonight as the St. Louis Blues visit the Devils. Game time is 7 p.m. on MSG Plus.
Zach Parise, who became friends with Langenbrunner when the two played together, said the former Devil had a major influence on his career.
"He was an important of not only being a captain, but also my career," the left wing told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. "I sat next to him (in the locker room) pretty much my whole career with the team here. I learned a lot about being a professional and about competing and playing hard like Jamie did. I think just little things like that are really good for a young guy."
In 50 games this season, Langenbrunner has 20 points (6g, 14a).
Jason Arnott, also a former Devil, will miss his third straight game due to a shoulder injury.
New Jersey enters tonight's game riding a five-game win streak. The run vaulted them into fifth in the Eastern Conference, just two points behind the fourth-seeded Philadelphia Flyers. Entering tonight, they're also six points behind the New York Rangers for the Atlantic Division lead.
The Devils defeated the Rangers, 1-0, Tuesday night to extend their win streak. Cam Janssen and Eric Boulton made headlines right after the puck dropped, getting into simultaneous fights. The lone goal would come from David Clarkson later in the period, as the right wing beat Henrik Lundqvist on the powerplay for his 21st goal of the season. Officials would disallow a late goal by New York for goalie interference, giving the Devils the win. Martin Brodeur stopped 30 shots for his first shutout of the season.
St. Louis enters tonight's game fourth in the Western Conference, tied with the Nashville Predators. The team fired coach David Payne on November 7, when they were 6-7 and in 13th in the conference. Ken Hitchcock, who took over that day, oversaw an immediate turnaround. They sit just five points behind the Detroit Red Wings, who are first in the Western Conference.
The Blues defeated the Ottawa Senators, 3-1, Tuesday night in Ottawa. David Perron led the offense, recording two goals in the win. Chris Porter scored his fourth goal of the season as the Blues evened their record on the three-game road trip to 1-1-0.
Janssen, a St. Louis native who spent the last three-plus seasons playing for the Blues, is excited to face his former team.
"The meaning to the game is we're playing good hockey right now and we're playing a good team," he told Gulitti. "I want to win for all different kinds of reasons. I want to keep this (five-game winning) streak going and move up in points in the standings. That's the main thing, no doubt about it.
"Then, on a personal note, you want to beat your old team. You play your old team, you want to win. You want to have a good game. You want to contribute the right way. You want to be effective and you want to show them that, 'Hey, I came to a good team.' We have a good group of guys here."
Parise said Langenbrunner will feel the same way.
"He played here for a long time, was part of a lot of important teams here," he told Gulitti. "I know when he was here, he was always excited to play against Dallas, so I'm sure he'll have the same feelings now playing against us."