I would say it was in the second month of the season where it became apparent how good Cory Schneider was. Don't get me wrong. He showed to be the better goaltender for the New Jersey Devils in October. He only allowed thirteen goals in six appearances with the Devils in October. However, his performance in November was at a higher level. In six appearances, he only got beaten eight times. He faced fewer shots but stopped a larger percentage of them. His save percentage went from a 91.5% in October to a crazy-good 94.1% in November. Even the results went his way as Schneider won three of those games: a stand-on-your-head performance in Los Angeles, a comfortable win in Carolina, and a shutout against Buffalo. Alas, the other guy was also getting results so Schneider was held to only six games. It's about this time where the clamor for #35 to get more games really rose - and those fans were entirely justified.
While Schneider only had eight goals against in six games in the month, I think worth taking a look at what got past him. His month wasn't off to an easy start with three goals allowed in Minnesota; but were those really the fault of the goalie? Schneider did well to only get beaten once or twice in the other four non-shutout games. But could he have done better? Let's look at the goals themselves and find out.
About the Review
For those of you who are unaware of what I'm doing, this is my annual month-by-month review of the goals against each Devils goaltender in each game - no shootouts - they played in.
I am focusing on identifying the "soft goals." Those goals against that should have been stopped by the goaltender. Here's how I am defining a soft goal: The goalie must have seen the shot coming; the shot was not deflected or change otherwise in motion; the goalie was in position to actually make the stop; and/or the goaltender made an uncharacteristic mistake that led to the goal. If the goal allowed qualifies, then I deemed the goal as "soft." In fact, the very last trait alone can make the difference in what is and is not a soft goal. Breakaways are done on a case-by-case basis; there I usually look to see whether the goalie has at least made an effort.
In addition to that, I look for other events on the goal allowed. I identify where Schneider was beaten on the goal, relative to Schneider's location. I note the game situation: even strength, power play, and shorthanded. I record whether the goal-scoring shot was a scoring chance. Any shot - not a deflection - from the crease out to the dots up to the top of the circles counts as a chance; anything outside of that does not. If I'm not certain, I will go against calling it a chance. Lastly, I denote any particular skater errors by a Devil on the goal allowed. I assign a skater error by name under "Errors" if the player did something significantly wrong that led to the goal such as a turnover or not covering their man. It's arguable that all goals allowed have an error or some kind; these are for the egregious mistakes that are made. I'm going to be more strict in calling them out. It also doesn't absolve the goaltender for a soft goal against.
Lastly, I have provided links to the video I looked at for each goal from NHL.com. This way if you want to see these for yourself and come to your own conclusion, then you can. These links will auto-play the video, so be forewarned when you click on them.
The 8 Goals Against Cory Schneider
|Date||GA#||Where Beaten?||GA Description||Soft?||Video||Errors||SC?||Sit.|
|11/3||14||On the left flank||Pominville gets sprung for one-on-one: stopped. Niederreiter tries to slide rebound in: stopped. Rebound swept to open Granlund: goal.||No||Link||Josefson||Yes||ES|
|11/3||15||On the right flank||Suter makes a cross-ice pass to Parise. Parise floats puck to middle past Schneider; a crashing Mitchell (and Suter) knock it in.||No||Link||--||No||ES|
|11/3||16||Under the glove||Ballard gets the puck at the left point. He takes a shot, Heatley deflects it in the slot, and the puck goes past Schneider.||No||Link||--||No||PP|
|11/8||17||Through the legs||Kessel goes end to end, blows past Zidlicky, drives to net, and scores 5-hole.||Yes||Link||Zidlicky||Yes||PP|
|11/15||18||Under the right arm||Muzzin takes a shot from the right point. King deflected it in while screening Schneider right in front.||No||Link||--||No||ES|
|11/21||19||Past the left side||Kopitar leads 2-on-1 with Williams. Schneider gets a piece of Kopitar's shot with his left side but it goes behind him. Williams taps in puck.||Yes||Link||Fayne||Yes||ES|
|11/29||20||Over the glove||Murphy's slapshot from left point is blocked in slot and puck falls to an open Skinner. Skinner picks top left corner.||No||Link||--||Yes||ES|
|11/29||21||Under the glove||Faulk hits Staal with a perfect long pass for a breakaway. Staal shoots it in between the glove and left pad.||No||Link||--||Yes||ES|
As a summary of the location data, not included in the big chart, here's the location of all goals allowed from Schneider in November. Again, these are all relative to Schneider's location; his left is left and his right is right.
In a way, eight goals against in six total games is an impressive total. What's more impressive is that there were two more that could have went better. I didn't like counting them, but I had to based on the metrics I set. Phil Kessel absolutely torched Marek Zidlicky by turning on beast mode on GA #17. What I look for in a one-on-one situation is whether the goalie made an effort. Schneider was just caught slow and so Kessel was able slide it through the five-hole. Impressive goal for Kessel, not so good for Schneider. I really didn't like tagging Schneider on GA #19. Schneider was the primary reason why the Devils got anything out of that game in Los Angeles. Yet, he only got a piece of a clear shot by Anze Kopitar in a two-on-one. The puck was about to sail in before Justin Williams ensured it. I believe if a goalie got a piece of a shot, then he could have had all of it. Hence, I marked it in the "soft" column. I'm not saying Schneider should have had shutouts in Toronto or Los Angeles. Shutouts are hard to get. Yet, upon review, he could have done better on the single goals he allowed in each game.
Surprising me was that there was nothing soft in that Minnesota game where he allowed three goals. If anything, Schneider was really unlucky. He got little support on GA #14. Two saves, Jacob Josefson sweeps a rebound to the slot for an easy goal for Mikael Granlund. GA #15 wasn't just a deflection but off a body crashing towards the crease on Schneider's right flank. GA #16 was just a deflection. No breaks for Schneider that night. Or the team as they were shut out 0-4.
As for other findings from this review, I will summarize them here: Due to the small amount of goals, there wasn't a common location where Schneider was beaten notably more than others. I did notice that five out of the eight goals against would count as scoring chances. The other three were deflections. So while they were also in that danger zone, they weren't technically shots so I did not count them as such. I also found that there were three skater errors. Josefson sweeping the rebound for GA #14, Zidlicky getting torched (and his clearance wasn't so good, it's a PK - end of the rink, man) on GA #17, and Fayne got caught in the neutral zone which led to the 2-on-1 to begin with on GA #19. I thought about Eric Gelinas on GA #20 because he didn't stick with Jeff Skinner, but the whole play wouldn't have happened if a shot didn't bounce off a body and drop right to Skinner. Gelinas' positioning wouldn't necessarily have stopped a goal so I didn't count him there. Put together, Schneider wasn't particularly poor in one area, the shots were coming from difficult spots if they weren't deflected, and someone in front of him does share some of the blame for three out of eight of these goals.
Overall, though, I can't really complain much about Schneider's performance. Noting that two out of eight goals were soft is one thing, but it's still only eight allowed in six games which is impressive on its own. Schneider was hot in November. Unfortunately, it did not lead to more minutes. And it's not always pretty when hot streaks end. More on that next week when December is reviewed.
In the meantime, I want to know your take. What do you think of Schneider's November? Was it as impressive to you now as you may have remembered then? Which of the goals allowed did you like the least? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the goalie's performance in November in the comments. Thank you for reading.