The NHL regular season is winding down and the Stanley Cup Playoffs are upon us. The competitive teams have loaded up and are prepared to make their runs. The big question is, who will be there competing for the greatest trophy in sports?
I was years away from having my first legal beer the last time the New Jersey Devils were in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (and almost won the whole thing). Now 24 years old, I am watching my favorite team play meaningful hockey in the month of March for the first time in what feels like forever. After seeing the Devils exceed all expectations this season, all I want to see now is some playoff hockey at the Prudential Center in April.
After laboring for the past month playing inconsistent hockey, the Devils will finally be gaining some much needed stability in net, as goaltender Cory Schneider will return after missing the past 16 games with a groin injury. While backups Keith Kinkaid and Eddie Lack have done an adequate job in Schneider’s absence, his return to the lineup is welcomed with open arms.
With 19 games left in the season, the Devils are far from a lock to make the playoffs, especially when they still have to face teams like the Vegas Golden Knights (twice), Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets, Tampa Bay Lightning, and many more tough opponents. New Jersey needs to bring their “A-Game” the rest of the way to get into the postseason, and Cory Schneider will help them do that.
Despite the unknown hate from some Devils fans (don’t listen to them), Cory Schneider is still one of the better goaltenders in the NHL. While he hasn’t been as good in recent years, that could partially be blamed on a weak defense that has Ben Lovejoy playing every game. I will absolutely hold Schneider accountable when he’s inconsistent or gives up a bad goal, but give me him in the net over Keith Kinkaid any night of the week.
The last stretch of this season will give me some of my worst anxiety and likely shed a few years off my life, but I have faith that the Devils will be back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs behind the strong play of Taylor Hall (give him the Hart Trophy) and Cory Schneider. On behalf of Devils fans everywhere, it’s good to have you back in net Cory. We missed you.