NJ Devils: Cory Schneider – First Half Analysis


January 14, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider (35) defends the goal against the Los Angeles Kings during the second period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The New Jersey Devils have a had a difficult start to the 2014-15 season, and the performance of their goaltender, Cory Schneider, has been at the center of the debate over the results of this team in the first half of the NHL season. The Devils fan base is divided on Schneider: some see him as the root cause of the laggard performance of the team and others believe that New Jersey would be a much worse hockey team without him between the pipes.

In my view, the bigger issue is the workload that Schneider has been given this season. The Devils and their fans should be concerned that the star goaltender is not overworked, which can lead to muscle fatigue, which can lead to potential injury. I understand that he is 28 years old, and can probably handle the rigors of the season, but the unknown variable with Schneider is that he has never held the role of a full time starting goalie in his career until this season.

Inside the Numbers


Schneider has played in 41 games this season with a record of 16-19-4, in those games he has faced 1,169 shots which is more than any other goaltender in the NHL. He has allowed 94 goals, which is 5th most in the league. Schneider has made 1,075 saves which is the highest total in the NHL, and he has been on the ice for a total of 2,337 minutes which is also the highest amount at his position in the league.

When you compare those numbers to his entire season in New Jersey in 2013-14, Schneider played in 45 games total as he split time with Martin Brodeur . Schneider recorded 1,107 saves for the entire season which is almost equal to his total for just the first half of this season. His total ice time of 2,680 minutes last season is just a few hundred minutes short of his total for this first half of the season.

His previous career high marks, prior to last season, came in the 2011-12 campaign with the Vancouver Canucks when he posted 1,833 minutes of ice time in 33 games played and had 945 total saves.

The issue with any athlete when they get into uncharted territory in their playing time is the effect it will have on their body, their energy level, and their ability to return from minor injuries from wear and tear. A good analogy would be pitcher who is breaking into the big leagues from the minor leagues where they play less games and usually keep younger pitchers on innings limitations and pitch count limits. A full season in the big leagues could have that pitcher throwing over 200 innings for the first time in his career, or throwing multiple complete games for the first time. The risk for injury or for performance lapse due to fatigue is much higher in those circumstances.

Defending the Goaltender

In the case of Cory Schneider this season, there are a few goaltenders around the same range of minutes, saves, and shots faced; but they have all had prior experience in a starting role and some have multiple years of experience. In my opinion, the cause for concern on the part of some fans relative to Schneider and his workload this season is warranted.

Conversely, I do not agree with those within the fan base that believe that the Devils would be a better team without him as the goalie. I am not sure who those people would replace him with, and I have heard some fans have floated the question over whether he should be traded, but I am not sure about the replacement value you would get in return. In the hypothetical scenario that the Devils traded him for younger position players and used a younger goaltender in his place, such as Keith Kinkaid, I think the team would be in much the same position it is in currently.

In my view, if Schneider sustained a major injury, it would mark the official end of any possible hope the Devils have of a competitive season. The lack of offensive production by New Jersey this season has put a premium on the performance of Schneider in defending their goal. He has also faced the most shots, which is something that the Devils have to deal with defensively as well in the future. If the team had a different goaltender other than Schneider, the team would have a significantly greater number of goals allowed at this point in the season.

I understand that some fans would like to see more of Kinkaid in the second half of the season, and I think that the team will go in that direction because Schneider has played a large number of minutes already this season. New Jersey will play games on back-to-back nights on five more occasions after the All Star Break, and they will play several times in situations where they have 3 games in the span of 5 days. Those situations usually call for the use of the backup goaltender more frequently.

The Devils have to be careful with Schneider, not to overwork him in a season that is sliding away from them. What do you, the fans, think: has Schneider been used too much in the first half of this season?

(Statistics courtesy of NHL.com)