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What Would be a Good Number of Starts for Cory?

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Cory Schneider is the unquestioned starting goaltender for the New Jersey Devils. He will get many starts this season, barring injury. The question, however, is should he receive less starts than last season, or should they continue to ride him?

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, Cory Schneider became the undisputed number one goaltender for the New Jersey Devils, and was the unanimous choice of the writers at this website for team MVP.  Given that he was such an important reason as to why last year's team was as competitive as it was, it made sense that he ended up starting 68 games for this club, the third most of any goaltender last season (behind Quick's 71 and Holtby's 72).

This season, the Devils do not project to be much better than they were last season, if at all.  This means that more than likely, they will need Schneider to be as good as he was last year, if not better.  It also means that they probably want him to start a boat load of games again.  However, that is certainly something that could be debated.  Should Cory start a really high number of games again this season, or should Keith Kinkaid get some more starts this season?  Let's look at both sides of the debate and see.

High Number of Starts

I've already alluded to the biggest reason as to why Cory should get a high number of starts again this season.  Simply put, he is good.  Real good.  The best player on the team.  Without him, the chances that the Devils can win a game on any given night diminish by a good amount.  This is not to say that Kinkaid is bad; he is not.  In fact, at his age, I expect that he will continue to improve behind Cory, and is a quality backup to have.  But, he is not Schneider.  I know you've probably seen these numerous times, but let's take a quick look at some of his stats.  Info here comes from NHL.com.

Statistic

Last Year

14-15 Rank (40+GP)

Career

Save Percentage

.925

4th

.925

Goals Against Average

2.26

9th

2.17

What I am trying to highlight is that last year was no fluke.  He is good in net.  His save percentage last year of .925 matches his career average, and that is a very good number to have.  His goals against average was a little higher than his career average last season, but that is the cost of playing on a bad team, as GAA is much more affected by the team as a whole than save percentage is.   Kinkaid, on the other hand, had a .915 save percentage and a 2.59 GAA in 19 games played (13 starts).

So, if the Devils want to remain competitive in the majority of games that they play, a goal that every team should have, then it would behoove them to start Schneider as much as possible.  Giving him something similar to the 68 starts he had last season would make sense.  In fact, you could potentially even argue for upping that number by a couple of games as this season New Jersey has less back-to-backs, which means that there are more rest days in between games, and Schneider could potentially be good to go for more starts.

Lower Number of Starts

Now, before I start, I do not mean that his starts should be cut down significantly.  He is the starting goaltender on this team and a workhorse.  He should get the majority of starts.  However, the argument here will be that he should get at least a little more rest than he did last season.

The biggest reason, as a fan, for Cory to receive less starts is that if this team is going to be out of the running come January, then getting a better chance at the lottery and Auston Matthews makes sense.  I am not saying that the Devils should tank and sit Cory, but if you give Kinkaid an extra 5-10 starts, it has the double benefit of both giving Kinkaid some more valuable playing experience while simultaneously giving the Devils a worse chance to win.  The team on the ice will still play hard and try hard, and I hope that it would be competitive regardless.  In the end, however, if Kinkaid plays those extra 5-10 starts, it is more likely than not that the Devils would end the season with a worse record than if Cory started them.

Another reason to sit Cory more is to keep him healthy.  Perhaps not for this season, but for seasons to come.  The Devils may not be great this year, but if the team does perhaps end up with Matthews, then it could potentially compete as early as next season (if everything goes perfectly).  If Schneider is overworked this season, it could lead his body to breakdown and potentially get injured.  Then, what the Devils would have moving forward is unknown.  Schneider proved last year that he can handle a big workload for a full season, but how will he hold up over multiple seasons as the workhorse?  Perhaps limiting him to 60 starts this season would keep him fresh for when the team does become a contender once more.

My Conclusion

In the end, I personally fall under the argument of playing him.  He proved last year that he can handle a full workload, and has said often that he loves to be out there and playing.  The Devils may not compete this season, but he will keep this team competitive and in games.  And as a fan who will be watching, that is what I want to see.  He is in the prime of his career, and I think he should play.  Now, I don't recommend getting 75 starts or anything like that, but he showed last season that he could handle 68 starts, and if he got around 65 this season, I don't see that being an issue at all.

Given that, I do understand the other side of the argument, and if he is limited to, say, 60 starts, I would not think it the worst thing in the world either.  Give Kinkaid some quality experience, and make sure that when Cory does play, he is on point.  However, if he does get the same amount of starts he got last year, I would just fine with it.

Your Thoughts

What are your thoughts on the matter?  Do you think Cory Schneider should get a similar number of starts as compared to last season, or should he sit a little more in favor of Keith Kinkaid?  Would you cap him to 60 starts this season, or let him roll towards 70?  What would be the benefits and drawbacks of both sides?  Please leave your comments below, and thanks for reading.