When Cory Schneider was traded to the New Jersey Devils, he knew it would not be a walk in the park.
Everyone in New Jersey had grown accustomed to an elite goaltender named Martin Brodeur. Filling the shoes of the great Brodeur would be no easy feat. Schneider’s inaugural season was actually split with Brodeur. Once it was finalized that Brodeur would not be resigning with the Devils, it was Schneider’s time to shine.
In July of 2014, Schneider signed a 7 year, $42 million contract extension. During the 2014-15 season, Schneider put up strong stats, posting a GAA of 2.26 and save percentage of .925. In fact, that .925 save percentage ranked sixth in the NHL. During the 2015-16 season, Schneider continued to put up strong stats: GAA of 2.15 and a save percentage of .924. Those strong numbers continued into the 2016-17 season, despite the team finishing last in the Eastern Conference and yet again missing the playoffs.
Midway through the 2017-18 season, Schneider suffered a groin injury and was replaced by Keith Kinkaid. This injury proved tough for Schneider to bounce back from and regain his form. The Devils would go on to make the playoffs that season, but ultimately get knocked out in the first round. However, during those first round games, Schneider was selected to be the starter for one and his performance that game was very strong: 1.78 GAA and .950 save percentage against a very tough Tampa Bay Lightning team. After getting that win, Schneider would go on to find it near impossible to get back in tip-top shape.
Keith Kinkaid was the number one goalie to start the 2018-19 season. However, after starting off the season strong, Kinkaid (and the rest of the team) fell apart. Schneider was given a few starts here and there but they were a very dismal showing for him. He became injured again and was placed on IR. After recovering from his injury, he was given a conditioning stint down in the AHL Binghamton Devils, where he played strong and recorded a win. He was recalled back up the NHL Devils and still could not find that elusive win. One of his best games was on February 7th against the New York Islanders. Schneider played an incredible game, making high danger saves and keeping the Devils in it. That game ultimately went to a shootout and the Devils lost and boy, was it heartbreaking (I may have thrown my remote across the room, but that’s neither here nor there).
But, on the February 15th game against the Minnesota Wild, Schneider came in to relieve Kinkaid and got the win. Yes, he GOT THE WIN. Fans and the team were elated, Twitter both exploded and imploded at the same time. That smile on his face after the win said it all. He looked like the pre-injury Schneider. He would go on to get the start in yesterdays game against the Buffalo Sabres and put up another strong performance. He truly kept the team in the game, making some HUGE saves and really robbing some of the Sabres. His stats in this past game speak for themself.
It really does look like the old Schneider is back. He looks confident, strong and comfortable in the crease. The team is finally providing him with some defensive and offensive support.
This season is a lost cause at this point, but if Schneider can find his game again (and we get Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko in the draft) then next season looks hopeful. Of course, there are some other moves that need to be made to add to that but one step at a time. Hopefully this is the start of Schneider getting his game back!
Stats: nhl.com; hockey-reference.com; Photos: Ed Mulholland/USA Today Sports; Adam Hunger/Getty Images; AP Photo; nhl.com; sportingnews.com