Find out which New Jersey Devils’ goaltender will make all the right headlines in 2019.
It’s never easy for a goaltender at any level of hockey to surrender their starting role between the pipes with a respective team.
Just ask former New Jersey Devil and the greatest NHL goaltender of all-time, Martin Brodeur.
Brodeur’s predecessor in New Jersey, Cory Schneider, struggled with injuries throughout the 2017-18 campaign but the former first-round draft pick (2004) clearly wasn’t his normal self in net. The 32-year-old finished with career lows across the board (.907 save percentage) and the highest goals-against-average (GAA) of his NHL career (2.93).
Schneider started in 40 games last season, which also marked the lowest amount of appearances while donning a Devils’ sweater since joining Jersey’s team in 2013-14 (43 games played). The Marblehead, Massachusetts native’s 17 wins were his fewest since the shortened 2012-13 lockout season when Schneider shared the Vancouver Canucks’ goaltending duties with Roberto Luongo.
Schneider witnessed first-hand what Luongo and Brodeur experienced when No. 35 won over the future Hockey Hall of Famers’ coveted goaltending creases. Devils’ backup netminder, Keith Kinkaid, rose from Jersey’s ashes last season and carried New Jersey back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2012.
Yes, New Jersey’s roster entering 2019 entails the likes of the 2018 Hart Memorial Trophy winner in Taylor Hall, the dynamic Nico Hischier and promising youngsters such as Jesper Bratt, Will Butcher, Mirco Mueller and potential rookie, Joey Anderson.
However, it’s Schneider that headlines the Devils for 2018-19 and his play in net is imperative for New Jersey to clinch back-to-back berths in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2009-2010.
Yes, Kinkaid’s play is key, but it’s Schneider’s net until the Devils’ hero from 2018 officially plays and proves he can last an entire season as a legitimate starting netminder.
The competition and pressure are arguably a positive for Schneider who, when he officially returns from an injury, takes to the ice with a chip on his shoulder and extra motivation to prove that’s he’s still the team’s No. 1 goaltender.
It’s fair to say that Schneider was at his best last season when the Devils’ backs were against the wall and facing a first-round elimination from the playoffs due to the first place Tampa Bay Lightning. Kinkaid and the Devils’ defense were more than exposed for the worse and the once No. 1 goaltender between the pipes appeared to be a typical backup netminder in the NHL, again.
Schneider stepped in, making Devils fans even more nervous at the time, but his performance level in net was phenomenal, to say the least.
Yes, New Jersey lost the series in convincing fashion (five games), but it is a positive take away knowing that the last time Schneider started in net for the Devils – he was sharp, confident, focused and positionally sound.
If you’re New Jersey, yes, the Garden State wants what’s best for both Kinkaid and Schneider. Still, if New Jersey wants to take that next step towards progressing as a legitimate Stanley Cup contender – Schneider is ‘the guy.’
The third-most winningest goaltender in Devils history (106 wins) has proven in the past that he has that ‘it’ factor and charisma to rise as one of the league’s top goaltenders.
A healthy and confident Cory Schneider will act as the Devils’ top headline in 2019.
New Jersey’s Stanley Cup dynasty era was built on character, and that’s exactly what Schneider will portray moving forward.