It was Cory Schneider's time to shine. And for good reason. He was fantastic in January. He not only played in more games than the other guy, but the other guy didn't get to play since that debacle of a Stadium Series game until March. Cory Schneider was getting all of the games in the meantime. What's more was that he played like he more than earned the additional appearances. It was a shorter than usual February given the Olympic break, but Schneider was only beaten six times in four games. In none of those games was he beaten more than twice. He posted a save percentage of 93.2%, which was excellent.
However, since he had the 2013-14 New Jersey Devils skaters in front of him, he only got decent goal support in one of those four games. And so, the team only got two wins - one coming in overtime - almost in spite of the goaltender playing excellent hockey. Between January and February 2014, I would say it was about this time of the season where many of the fans realized how much of an asset Schneider was, how much better he was than the other guy at the time, and how frustrating it was that Schneider's strong play didn't turn into points in the standings. #GoalsForCory was a thing then and for good reason. Of course, this is a review of the goals against Schneider. There weren't many, but let's see what happened on them nonetheless.
About the Review
For those of you who are unaware of what I'm doing, this is part of 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 6 Goals Against Cory Schneider in February 2014
|Date||GA#||Where Beaten?||GA Description||Soft?||Video||S.E.||SC?||Sit.|
|2/3||56||Past the right skate||Barrie fires a low shot from above the left circle. Parenteau re-directs it past Schneider and into the net.||No||Link||--||No||56|
|2/3||57||Above/past the blocker||MacKinnon feeds Duchene below left circle. Duchene passes it to O'Reilly in slot, who one-times it in.||No||Link||--||Yes||PP|
|2/7||58||On goalie's right flank||Greene tries to keep a puck alive on offense, but it went loose and picked up by Hall. Hall passed it up to Yakupov for a 2-on-1. Yakupov passed it to Hall, who put it in low on the flank.||No||Link||Greene
|2/8||59||Past, above the blocker||Brouillette gets puck at right point, skates up, and fires. It gets in high past moving traffic.||No||Link||--||No||ES|
|2/27||60||Off the left side and down into net.||Anisimov flings a low puck from the left corner. Puck goes up off Schneider's stick, off his hip, and down into the net.||Yes||Link||--||No||ES|
|2/27||61||On the goalie's left flank||Anisimov attempts a shot and puck deflects up in air in the slot. Gaborik tips it down to himself and puts it in past Schneider's left.||No||Link||Clowe||Yes||ES|
As usual, the location isn't listed in the table, but here's the summary of where Schneider was beaten on the goals against. Locations are relative to Schneider himself.
It was a short month and Schneider didn't give up much, so there wasn't a lot to look at. Still, doing this part of the review reminded me how frustrating these games were to watch. GA #56 was another extra-man situation that yielded a game-tying goal. This was different in that Colorado pulled their goaltender much earlier and the Avalanche skaters just pinned the Devils back. As the goal was a deflection, the goal wasn't Schneider's fault. As with the last two instances of those late-game equalizers, there wasn't a Devil who made an error. This got magnified by the realization the Devils needed overtime to beat Edmonton and flopped in D.C. even though the empty net gave up more goals than Schneider did last night. I watched all five goals in the win on 2/27 just to feel good about it.
Anyway, there was only one bad goal given up by Schneider among this six-pack. GA #60 could be more accurately categorized as a fluke. Artem Anisimov just threw the puck low towards the net, ramped up off his stick, and dropped into the net. I counted it against Schneider because of his positioning on the play. Despite Chico noting his pad was against the post, his body wasn't. His loose control of his stick combined with leaving a gap between his body and post allowed the possibility to happen - and it did. Fortunately, the bad goal came in the game where the guys in front of him scored five so it wasn't a big deal. GA #59, the lone goal Schneider conceded against the Caps, could have been a soft goal if it wasn't for the moving screen coming across the goalie as the shot came.
As for the rest, I only have a few notes. Going back to that night where the Devils dropped a point against Colorado, GA #57 was similar to GA #56. An Avalanche player in the slot one-touching the puck past the right side of Schneider. I thought about tagging either Mark Fayne or Bryce Salvador on the play. I decided against it because of the situation: a 3-on-4 penalty kill. Salvador was trying to fill the lane, the Avalanche just went around him. Fayne got onto the wrong side of Ryan O'Reilly on the goal, but I don't know if he could have gotten on the right side. I leave it to you to decide otherwise.
I definitely tagged Andy Greene and Mark Fayne on GA #58. Greene tried to keep a puck alive on offense but ended up turning it over. Instead of giving up on the attack, it got loose - which made it easy for Taylor Hall to take it up for a 2-on-1. As the one, Fayne stayed in the middle, didn't keep his stick low, and ended up just watching Nail Yakupov feed Hall for a score. The only other skater error I found was Ryane Clowe on GA #61. Clowe wasn't really covering Marian Gaborik to begin with, but as Gaborik skated by the crease, Clowe just hung out and watched. With so many Devils around the puck, it was a surprise that Gaborik was so open to tap the puck down and slam it in. Clowe should've stayed with him, which would have prevented the space he had to score.
That all said, I see this month as just a continuation of his play in January. Schneider stopped a high percentage of pucks, he didn't give up many soft goals, his skaters didn't leave him out to dry too much, and at least half of the goals against came from scoring chances. Again, it's hard to complain about six goals allowed over four games; even with a big break in the middle of the month. Unfortunately, as with November, all good things would come to an end - and they came to an end hard in March. More on that next week.
In the meantime, I want to know your take. What do you think of Schneider's performance in February? Did you believe at the time it was Schneider's net for good given his play and his usage? How badly did you wish for Schneider to get more goal support prior to 2/27? Was GA #60 more fluke than soft? Were there any skater errors I missed? Which of the goals allowed did you like the least? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the goalie's performance in February in the comments. Thank you for reading.