Schneider's Play in World Championships Encouraging Sign for the Devils

By Patrick Hoffman

It's been a rough few seasons for New Jersey Devils' netminder Cory Schneider.

He hasn't played well, he hasn't been healthy, he hasn't played with any kind of confidence, the team in front of him has not played well. When you put these things together, you have a guy who struggles between the pipes.

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Schneider, 33, certainly did not struggle for Team USA in this year's World Championships. His play in this tournament should be looked at as a good sign of things to come next season.

He finished the tournament with a 5-2 record to go along with a 2.49 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage. These are vintage numbers for a guy who was one of the most consistent netminders in the league.

He was especially good for his team when they lost to Team Russia by a score of 4-3 in being eliminated from the tournament back on May 23. He stopped 39 of 43 shots and was the main reason why his club was in the game.

After the tilt, Schneider told reporters that he was happy with his play and that it was good to play in big games again

"It felt pretty good. I felt more comfortable as the tournament went on. We had some good challenges, especially the last two games against Canada and Russia. To get this kind of exposure and atmosphere and intensity was good for me, not having done it in awhile."  

If you're a Devils fan, you should be happy to hear these words. Yes, your team has Mackenzie Blackwood who played well in 23 games with the club last season (10-10 with a 2.61 goals-against average, a .918 save percentage, and two shutouts), but Schneider is your starting goaltender going into next season. 

If he can stay healthy and get his confidence back, the Devils should be more than set in goal. Schneider showed just that in the World Championships.

I caught a few of Team USA's and in the games that Schneider played, I noticed that he was challenging shooters more, was controlling his rebounds, and he looked like the Schneider that was outstanding for the Devils for the better part of four seasons (2013-14 to 2016-2017). 

In those seasons, Schneider was consistent, posted good numbers, kept the team in many games that they should not have been in, and was even an All-Star (2016). His first three seasons between the pipes for the Devils were simply outstanding.

2013-14: 17-9-4; 2.11 GAA; .921 save percentage; 3 shutouts

2014-15: 26-31-9; 2.26 GAA; .925 save percentage; 5 shutouts

2015-16: 27-25-6; 2.15 GAA; .924 save percentage; 4 shutouts

These are unbelievable numbers despite playing behind some pretty garbage hockey teams. In fact, Schneider's play was so good that much of the fan bases fears about what the team's goaltending would be like after the Hall of Fame Brodeur left were significantly lessened. 

In the last two seasons, however, things went south because of injuries and inconsistent play. If you take out those two things, you have a Schneider that is capable of doing great things for the Devils.

It may have just been the World Championships, but Schneider's strong play in them is more than good news for the Devils and their fans. Hopefully, he can keep getting stronger and stay healthy going into next season, because the team is going to need him at his best if they want to have any kind of success.

Patrick covers the NHL for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave. 

He has previously covered the league for WTP SportsSportsnet.caKukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

For comments and hip checks, feel free to contact Patrick at patrickhoffman3530@gmail.com or on Twitter at @pathoffman35.