The last few seasons have been an absolute nightmare for New Jersey Devils’ netminder Cory Schneider.
He’s played poorly, he’s dealt with several injuries, and more importantly, is not living up to his contract. What’s also concerning is that he has not come close to being the same goaltender that he was from 2013 to 2016 when he put up absolutely phenomenal numbers.
When he’s been healthy this season, he’s been downright awful. Schneider, 32, is 0-5-1 with a 4.66 goals-against average and a .852 save percentage. These numbers are not exactly what a team expects from its supposed number one goaltender.
Schneider was placed on injured reserve a few weeks ago, but since then, no one has really spoken about him. It makes one wonder what his status is and if when he comes back, how much playing time he will get.
It’s the last part of the paragraph above that is interesting. Without Schneider, the Devils have shown that they have two capable netminders in Keith Kinkaid and now rookie goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood.
The way Blackwood, 22, has played thus far makes one wonder if Schneider’s time with the Devils is coming to an end. Both Kinkaid, 29, and Blackwood are younger, healthier, and right now at least, better.
Let’s start with Blackwood. Blackwood has come out of nowhere and has shown the Devils that he might be the future for the team in the crease.
Blackwood was drafted back in 2015 as the 12th pick in the second round. Prior to jumping in with the Devils this year when Schneider got hurt, he spent time with the Albany Devils, Adirondack Thunder, and Binghamton Devils, posting pretty solid numbers on these three clubs.
With that said, what he has done in the NHL so far has been outstanding and my guess is that it has blown away both the franchise and their fans as a whole. He has come in and shown that at least for right now, the team does not have to rush Schneider back.
Blackwood is 3-1 with a 1.25 goals-against average, a .963 save percentage and two shutouts. Obviously, this is a small sample size, but nevertheless, these numbers are very impressive.
Over the holiday weekend, the rookie posted back-to-back shutout victories. On December 29, he stopped all 37 shots the Carolina Hurricanes threw at him and then two days later on New Year’s Eve, he turned away all 25 shots he faced in a win over the Vancouver Canucks.
The games he has played in have not exactly been easy. In his three victories over the Boston Bruins, Hurricanes, and Canucks, he faced a combined 104 shots. The fact that he stopped 102 of them is quite remarkable.
Blackwood has shown that he is quick, that he tracks the puck well, and that he can make the big saves when called upon. He has also shown the ability to play well in games in which he faces a lot of shots, which is very important considering the team’s questionable defensive play.
Kinkaid has not exactly been bad either. He is currently 12-10-6 with a 3.02 goals-against average, a .901 save percentage and three shutouts.
Kinkaid played extremely well last season and was one of the reasons why the Devils made the playoffs in the first place. While his goals-against does not look great, he’s played well enough this season to show that he can handle a lot of games when the number one guy is out.
With all of this said, it makes one wonder if there is room for Schneider anymore. With the way Blackwood and Kinkaid have played while he has been out, it does not appear that this team needs him anymore.
*Photo: New York Daily News