Photo: From NJ.com
Don’t give him a break as in “cut him some slack,” or “forgive him,” or “overlook his mistakes.” Give him a literal break. Take Cory Schneider out for a couple of games.
The man has started every single one of the New Jersey Devils’ 18 games so far this season. 18! The Devils are the only team in the entire league that have started the same goalie for every game. This streak of 18 starts for Schneider is the second-longest in franchise history for a goalie, behind only Martin Brodeur.
It may have worked for Brodeur at some point in his 22-year career, but it’s not working for Schneider or the Devils, who hold an 8-8-2 record this season. 18 points in 18 games. It’s not bad and it could certainly be worse, but if you give Schneider a break at some point it could also be much, much better.
Schneider ranks low in the two most important statistical categories for goaltenders – 30th in goals against average and 31st in save percentage. The only categories he tops are games played (18), games started (18), and time on ice – over 1,000 minutes. This is absurd. Scott Clemmensen, who isn’t even on the Devils active roster right now, has seen 37 minutes of ice time in 2 games, and Keith Kinkaid has played 27 in the same amount of games.
The worst part of it is that Kinkaid isn’t even a bad goaltender. He went 24-13-5 in 43 games for the Albany Devils last season, with a .912 save percentage and 2.29 GAA. It’d be different if the Devils’ backup goalie wasn’t good, but Kinkaid is, and he deserves a chance to play a game every once in awhile.
The Devils are trying to move forward with Schneider as a number one goalie after last year’s bad situation with him and Brodeur. That’s understandable; the team needs to have a life after Brodeur. What they don’t need is to wear Schneider down and start him in every game. Prior to this season, where he’ll likely be pushed to start 70 games or so unless head coach Peter DeBoer realizes his mistakes, Schneider hadn’t played more than 45 games in a season.
The reality is that Schneider just isn’t Brodeur. While Brodeur was able to play at least 70 games in 12 of his seasons with New Jersey, Schneider’s not that kind of player. Not yet, anyways. It’s bad coaching on DeBoer’s part if he thinks he can throw a goalie, who’s only once played more than half a season in one year, into the fire to play so many games.
Cory Schneider’s a great goaltender. Everyone has seen what he can do when he’s on top of his game. But he’s just not yet capable of going into 18 straight games (or more, as the season may bring) and being on top of his game each time. Unfortunately for the Devils, who are still inconsistent offensively, they need him on top of his game to have a chance at success.