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Langenbrunner makes first return to the Rock

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils

The Devils will get to see a familiar face on Thursday, when ex-captain Jamie Langenbrunner and the St. Louis Blues visit Prudential Center.

This will be Langenbrunner's first appearance at the Rock since he was traded to Dallas last Jan. 6. He signed with St. Louis as a free agent over the summer.

The Devils went up against Langenbrunner in Dallas last Feb. 11. Zach Parise, a member of the high-scoring ZZ Pops line with Langenbrunner and Travis Zajac, was recovering from knee surgery at the time.

Parise, who succeeded Langenbrunner as Devils captain in October, spoke Wednesday about No. 15's impact.

"He was an important part of not only being captain, but also just my career," Parise said. "I sat next to him 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 just think little things like that are good for a young guy."

Langenbrunner was a key member of the Devils' Stanley Cup run in 2003, when he led the League with 11 goals, four game-winning tallies and 18 points in 24 postseason games.

The native of Cloquet, Minn., played 564 regular-season games in New Jersey from 2001-02 to 2010-11, collecting 142 goals and 243 assists for 385 points.

When Parise was named captain, Langenbrunner relayed his advice in a text message.

"The only thing he really said was, 'Just be yourself,'" Parise recalled. On Sunday, he passed Langenbrunner for 10th on the Devils' all-time points list.

St. Louis enters the game ranked fourth in the Western Conference, three points behind Detroit for the Central Division lead. New Jersey rolled to its fifth straight win Tuesday with a 1-0 blanking of the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

With 65 points, the Devils (31-19-3) have climbed to fifth in the East, six points behind the Rangers for the top spot in the Atlantic. They're looking to extend their season-high winning streak to six games.

"I think for us, we're not looking right now at climbing all the way up," Parise said. "We want to create some separation from the teams below us. You can kind of see that there's starting to be just a little bit between sixth, seventh and eighth [place]; they're starting to get some points in between. But I think we're not so far behind Boston (68 pts) – we're right there. We have to keep playing well."

Ex-Blue Cam Janssen is looking forward to playing his former club.

"I want to win it for all kinds of different reasons," he said. "I just want to keep this streak going and move up in points in the standings, that's the main thing, no doubt about it. And then on a personal note, you want to beat your old team. Anybody who's ever been in a trade like that, 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. You want to show them that, 'Hey, I came to a good team, we've got a good group of guys here.'"

The Devils dealt Janssen to St. Louis for Bryce Salvador on Feb. 26, 2008. Janssen signed with the Devils as a free agent last summer after four seasons with his hometown club.

Martin Brodeur (resting) did not practice Wednesday. Adam Larsson (bruised lower back) and Ryan Carter (hand) did not practice and will not play Thursday. 

• Ex-Devil Jason Arnott, who signed with the Blues last summer, has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury and is listed as day-to-day. Arnott was part of the March 2002 deal that sent him from New Jersey to Dallas with Randy McKay in exchange for Langenbrunner and Joe Nieuwendyk.

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