The New Jersey Devils have placed goalie Cory Schneider on the injured reserve list, the team announced Monday.

Schneider hasn’t played since January 23 against the Boston Bruins and has been on the shelf with groin and hip injuries. The move to the injured reserve list comes with the announcement that the netminder will start skating sometime next week, which in turn suggests a silver lining.

The Devils currently sit fourth in the Metropolitan Division and will be doing everything in their power to stand firm in Schneider’s absence. If they can hold a playoff spot and get their number one goalie back, they can take a solid run at the Stanley Cup and surprise some people.

New Jersey is 27-20-8, with 62 points. That’s three behind the Philadelphia Flyers and one ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes, but things can change in an instant.

The Devils have surprised quite a few people with their performance this season, as they seem to be in the midst of a long-term restructuring. The team is trending younger and general manager Ray Shero has rolled out some quality structural plans, but the dividends are starting to show already. That puts the club in an interesting position going into the playoffs.

It also means that the Devils should be buyers come the trade deadline. They’ve got some cash to burn and may be in the mood for some top six scoring, but Shero probably won’t want a high-price rental. That does narrow the field significantly.

Taylor Hall has led the charge for the team offensively. He’s up top in goals, assists and points this season. Will Butcher has 28 assists thus far, while Miles Wood hasn’t been too shabby in the scoring department. The Devils would like to get Brian Gibbons back from injury, too, as the 29-year-old has a dozen goals this season. Getting Marcus Johansson back would also help.

With that context, the news of Schneider’s return to the ice takes on new meaning. The Devils simply need their top goaltender back, as the tandem of Keith Kinkaid and Eddie Lack aren’t getting the job done. Lack dropped his debut with the Devils against the Bruins and New Jersey lost their fourth straight.

Schneider is 17-116 this season, with a 2.79 goals against average.

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