Cory Schneider shines as the Devils shutout the Edmonton Oilers


Cory Schneider was brilliant last night leading the Devils to a much needed 2-0 win over a last place Edmonton team. Schneider led the way with 29 saves, some of which were high quality chances for the Oilers. He has been getting a lot of flak in recent weeks in regards to his play, but last night there was nothing negative that could be said. Schneider made the huge saves the team needed, he picked them up when things weren’t going well, and most importantly he avoided making a crucial mistake that would turn momentum. In his 20th straight start to the season, eclipsing Martin Brodeur’s franchise record of 19, he couldn’t have played any better.

The win brought the Devils’ record back to NHL .500 at 9-9-2 and pulled them level with the idle Rangers (who were postponed due to the massive snowstorm in Buffalo) at 20 points. The Devils have had an inconsistent season, but they’re right in the thick of things in the Metropolitan Division. Speaking of inconsistent, last night’s performance was just that. It was really a tale of three periods for the Devils last night.

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First Period

It was as if the Devils watched game film of their putrid first period in Winnipeg and somehow decided it was a good idea to put on the same display in Edmonton. New Jersey was sloppy, lethargic and seemed disinterested in playing hockey. It was truly one of the worst periods of hockey they’ve played this season – and they’ve played some bad ones. After only getting four shots on goal in the first period in Winnipeg, the Devils again only got four shots in the first period last night. The one bright spot of the period came on Adam Henrique’s shorthanded breakaway, but he couldn’t convert. At first glance it looked like he missed the net, but replay shows Viktor Fasth did get a blocker on it although Henrique was not credited with a shot. So in reality, it should have been five shots. Regardless, it was a terrible period and the combination of Cory Schneider and a bad Edmonton team bailed the Devils out.

Second Period

I have no clue what was said in the locker room between periods, but whatever it was… it worked. The second period was one of the best periods the Devils played all season. They were able to fire 19 shots at Fasth and two went in, imagine that. When you shoot the puck, it actually has a chance to go in. It took the Devils about ten minutes until they were finally able to beat Fasth and it was Henrique again on a breakaway. Steve Bernier made the best pass of his life to spring Henrique who was able to slide the puck five hole and give the Devils a 1-0 lead. Adam’s celebration made some noise as he decided to shoot finger guns and then put them in the holster. The Devils having fun? What’s that?

Nov 21, 2014; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; New Jersey Devils center Adam Henrique (14) celebrates with team mates after scoring the first goal of the game against the Edmonton Oilers in the second period at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Chris LaFrance-USA TODAY Sports

Five minutes later the Devils would add to their lead when Tuomo Ruutu came in down the left wing and went snipe city beating Fasth to the far top corner. It was one of the best shots you’ll ever see Ruutu take and it was all made possible by a great zone clearance by Eric Gelinas. Gelly raced to clear a loose puck from an on-coming Edmonton attacker and threw the puck off the boards right to Ruutu. It was Gelinas’ second assist of the game and fifth of the season. He gets a lot of criticism for his defense, but there’s no doubt what he can bring offensively.

The Devils had 19 shots, two goals and the best period they played all season. It was a complete 180 degree flip from the first period in which they showed no life at all. A big reason for this change is all the lines clicked. The top line wasn’t much of a factor, but last night the depth was huge. The second line of Henrique, Martin Havlat and Patrik Elias played pretty well – although they can play better and need to. The fourth line of Bernier, Stephen Gionta and Dainius Zubrus did a solid job as well. However, it was the third line of Ruutu, Jacob Josefson and Michael Ryder that played the best. Those three have been a happy surprise and seemed to have gelled together. They create a very good third line that can play all facets of the game and provides good depth for the team.

Third Period

It might have been the fact that they had a two goal lead against a poor Oilers’ team, but the Devils didn’t come out in the third with the same energy and tenacious attitude that they had in the second. Luckily, thanks to Cory Schneider it did not bite them. The Devils were only able to get three shots in the frame and couldn’t even score on an empty net for three and a half minutes. I understand the mantra is defense first, but there has to be a balance. Three shots, no matter what the situation, is not good enough. There has to be a hunger to go get that third goal and even a fourth to put the game away. Against a better team or one crack from Schneider and the Devils’ could have easily lost. As it was, Schneider was incredible last night and really carried the team to victory. I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if Schneider makes consecutive start #21 tonight in Calgary.