Hot streaks eventually end. For a goaltender, that's not only bad for him but also the team. Someone who goes from stopping a lot of shots to stopping not as many means there are more goals against. That's more goals for the skaters to make up. If the team is like the New Jersey Devils, that's not so likely to happen and so the results start to get uglier.
Cory Schneider went from posting an extremely good save percentage in November - 94.1% - to a far worse number in December: 89.2%. He made six appearances, conceded eighteen goals against, and won only one game. To further put it in perspective, that save percentage for the month was actually less than the Devils' other goaltender. It was a bad month for Cory Schneider. Of course, that's partially why this type of review is worth doing. By looking at the goals that got past Schneider, we can determine whether he gave up a lot stinkers or if something else is going on. I can assure you, there was a lot of bad going around in December.
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 18 Goals Against Cory Schneider in December 2013
|Date||GA#||Where Beaten?||GA Description||Soft?||Video||S.E.||SC?||Sit.|
|12/4||22||Past the glove||Briere makes a cross-ice pass through bodies, gets to Gionta for a one-timer.||No||Link||Jagr||Yes||ES|
|12/4||23||Through the legs||Eller gets fed in the slot and Schneider stops his backhander. Eller puts rebound just through the legs.||No||Link||Henrique||Yes||ES|
|12/4||24||Under the glove||Gionta unloads a slapshot from the left point. Desharnais deflects it in right in front.||No||Link||Henrique||No||56|
|12/6||25||On the right flank||Miller gets in deep and throws a puck off Schneider's body. It comes out front of Andersson to slam it into the net.||No||Link||Greene||Yes||ES|
|12/6||26||On the right flank||Nyquist slides a cross-slot pass to Franzen, who buries the one-timer low.||No||Link||Henrique||Yes||ES|
|12/6||27||Over the blocker||Devils win defensive zone faceoff, Greene's light pass is picked off by Tatar. Tatar picks the top right corner.||No||Link||Greene||Yes||PP|
|12/13||28||Past the right pad and through the stick||Kunitz lofts the puck at Schneider. Schneider doesn't actually have puck, it's loose in between his legs. Dupuis pokes it in.||Yes||Link||--||Yes||ES|
|12/13||29||Through the legs||Merrill loses a bouncing puck to Vitale, who plays it up to Sutter. As Sutter gets hit, he feeds a free Conner in the slot. Conner keeps it low to score.||Yes||Link||
|12/13||30||Past the left pad||Despres unloads a one-timer from the left point. Schneider stops it, but Megna gets the rebound. Curls it around Schneider, off the post, and in.||No||Link||Henrique||Yes||ES|
|12/20||31||Above the glove||Devils lose defensive zone faceoff after icing. Puck gets to Fowler, who hammers a slapshot to the far post past a screen.||No||Link||--||No||ES|
|12/20||32||Under the glove||Palmieri powers to the corner and attempts a pass to the slot. Puck bounces twice off Gelinas' skates, Perreault fires loose puck inside left post.||No||Link||--||Yes||ES|
|12/20||33||Over the right pad||Palmieri powers around the net for a wraparound. Puck gets launched up off Merrill's stick and into the net.||No||Link||Gelinas||No||ES|
|12/23||34||Over the right pad||Sharp fires a shot from the sideboards. It deflects off Fayne's hand, dipping it down and goes right to fool Schneider.||No||Link||--||No||ES|
|12/23||35||Past the right pad||Versteeg wins puck in corner and passes it back to Leddy. Leddy's slapshot is in Schneider's glove but he couldn't keep it. Puck drops, Kane slides it around Schneider's right pad.||Yes||Link||--||Yes||ES|
|12/23||36||Over the left shoulder||Saad one-touches puck in deep and gets to it in corner. He passes it to Bickell, who snapshots it in shortside through a screen.||No||Link||--||No||ES|
|12/23||37||Under the glove||Merrill's shot from the point gets stopped. Two passes and Sharp's sprung for a breakaway. Sharp scores.||No||Link||--||Yes||ES|
|12/23||38||Past the left side||Versteeg wins faceoff to Seabrook. Seabrook passes to Leddy. Leddy moves to right circle and fires a bullet past Schneider, off the post and in.||Yes||Link||--||No||PP|
|12/28||39||Over the glove||Salvador's clearance gets stopped by Vanek and drops to Okposo. From his knees, he feeds Neilsen, who scores high- possibly off Zidlicky.||No||Link||
I added a new situation: 56. That's for an extra man against situation. As there were a number of goals against where the other team had pulled their goalie in this past season, it should be documented as such. I wish I thought of it earlier. Anyway, here's the usual summary of the location data, not included in the big chart, here's the location of all goals allowed from Schneider in December. Again, these are all relative to Schneider's location; his left is left and his right is right.
In the prior two months, there weren't very many egregious errors by the skaters in front of Schneider. As I watched these goals, I counted six straight and a total of nine out of eighteen - half of this month's totals. They ran the gamut of not picking up the eventual scorer (Jaromir Jagr on GA #22, Andy Greene on GA #25), a botched clearance up the boards (Adam Henrique on GA #24, Bryce Salvador on GA #39), failing in front of the net (Henrique on GAs #23, 26, and 30; Marek Zidlicky on GA #39), a simple giveaway (Andy Greene on GA #27), and getting torched (Gelinas on GA #33). I didn't like Jon Merrill losing that bouncing puck that led to GA #29, but I decided not to tag him for a literal bad bounce. The 12/4 and 12/6 games in particular just featured some lackluster play from others that hurt Schneider and ultimately the team. They were less common in the other games, though. Still, the errors did more damage in December as Schneider wasn't bailing them all out.
That being said, Schneider was not without blame. I counted four of his eighteen goals to be soft. That 12/13 game against Pittsburgh wasn't fun to review. The first one in that game was just a hideous by Schneider. A simple dump-in eluded him and he paid the price for GA #29. I suspect that may one of his softest of the season if not . While a lost puck in the neutral zone led to Conner getting sprung for a one-on-one, Schneider was beaten straight up on GA #30. At least on GA #37, Schneider made an attempt. He was simply beaten shortside on a simple shot by Conner on GA #30. Quite poor. He got turned on GA #31, but his saving grace so to speak was that it was off a close rebound. Had Henrique kept battling or even stuck with Jayson Megna, the goal doesn't likely happen. That was a poor game, for sure.
Unsurprisingly, the 12/23 game where he got lit up five times by Chicago featured some regrettable goals against. I normally don't count rebound goals against a goalie as being soft but I made an exception for GA #35. The rebound was created simply because Schneider failed to catch the puck. He got the shot with his glove, but he didn't squeeze it. Therefore, the puck came out, Patrick Kane got it, and made the move to put it in. As Schneider really had control over that, I counted that against him. GA #38 was a more "traditional" as it was a non-scoring chance shot from distance finding it's way past the goalie and hitting far post. The other three goals weren't as bad (GA# #34 was a bad bounce off Mark Fayne's glove, a screen prevented adding GA #36 as soft) and didn't feature a particular player failing, but they spoke to how the Devils played that night (poorly).
In other findings, it was interesting to see Schneider getting beaten plenty of times on his glove side. Ten out of eighteen goals went to his left and six of those were in that medium height range of shots just over the glove, just under the glove, and just past the glove. Low shots tended to go more to his right as four out of seven low shots beat him, but the glove side stuck out more. In terms of where the shots came from, twelve were scored in that scoring chance area. The others were either deflections (e.g. GA #24, GA #33 - a bad break in OT; GA #34) or long shots that got in (GA #36, 38).
Overall, four bad goals out of eighteen isn't that all that bad. He didn't stink it up throughout most of the month; really only for a game or two. The larger concern was that Schneider conceded an average of three goals per game in the month. In five out of the six, he got beaten at least three times. The large number of errors by skaters relative to other months stood out to me. Not only for seeing what they did wrong but that a save just didn't come. When you're hot, some of those saves are made and so the mistake doesn't become a part of the game's highlights. But Schneider wasn't hot and so the damage was done. As such, he was relegated to playing only a part of December. Fortunately, the coldness ended in January. Schneider would go on to not only play better but also play more. More on that next week.
In the meantime, I want to know your take. What do you think of Schneider's December? Were you as surprised how the skater errors stuck out, especially in the first two games? Which of the goals allowed did you like the least? How in the world did Schneider not handle that dump-in? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the goalie's performance in December in the comments. Thank you for reading.