Remember when the Vancouver Canucks traded goalie Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils and everyone was upset because the goalie of the future just walked out the door?
That Cory Schneider pales in comparison to the Cory Schneider of today, a listless and struggling netminder without a regular season win in 11 months. The Marblehead native is 0-5-0 to start this season, with a 4.27 goals against average and a .863 save percentage.
The 32-year-old kicked off the year with a three-game run in the AHL and returned from the minors to play poorly in the major. He is statistically the worst goalie in the league with at least five starts this season.
We could hunt for a reason.
Schneider has been playing through pain, for one. Last season, he missed five weeks with a groin injury and he required surgery in the off-season to repair his hip.
Backup Keith Kinkaid took the mantle and ran with it last season, with Schneider benched in the post-season. The good news was that he was stellar when he did get playoff starts, finishing with a 1.78 goals against average in three and a half games. So, the capability was there and he rose to the occasion.
Confidence is clearly a problem and the team is trying to do what they can in support.
“We have to try to continue to help him get to the level he needs to get to, to be able to win a game,” said Devils head coach John Hynes Sunday after Schneider yielded four first period goals against Tampa.
“It’s tough when your goalie gives away the game in the first period,” Schneider said after the loss. “It’s not really fair [to my teammates] the way I played to start the game. To spot [our opponents] a 4-1 lead, it puts my teammates in a bad spot. It’s just disappointing for me.”
Disappointing is right and it can be hard to pull out of this kind of funk. Getting that one win seems an impossible thing all of a sudden and the puck just isn’t cooperating.
Digging deeper, the statistics tell a tale of a goalie unable to make the Big Save. Scheider struggles especially in “high-danger save percentage,” which is exactly what it sounds like. The goalie has a high-danger save percentage of .666 this season, which is, as you might imagine, not good. It reveals that Schneider isn’t bailing out his teammates when the puck is in a bad place, that he’s not committing any acts of larceny in that crease.
And for a goalie to be good in today’s NHL, that has to happen. The Devils do well to cut down on high-danger chances, but Schneider isn’t living up to his end of the bargain. That puts the defence in an interesting position because you get the feeling they don’t play well in front of their netminder, a feeling supported by coughing up two goals in 30 seconds against the Hurricanes.
So, what do you do? How does Hynes “get him to the level he needs to get to?”
There are options, like a roster shakeup or a trade or another AHL stint. The trade, while popular, is a tough call because of the heft of Schneider’s contract and the quality of his play. He is not earning his money right now and he’s going to be a tough sell.
But with the Devils sinking and Schneider’s play definitely not improving, something’s got to give in New Jersey.