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Is Cory Getting Help?

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Sometimes, a win/loss record for a goaltender does not explain their play very well. Good goalies can be handed too many losses from lack of support, and bad goalies can luck out with too many wins thanks to great goal support. How is Cory supported?

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday night, I was watching the game between the Montreal Canadiens and the New Jersey Devils.  You know, the one where the game looked not-so-close despite the close score.  Anyway, I had the game on NHL Gamecenter on my phone as I was not home.  Because I was in the NJ broadcast area, I could not watch our friends Steve Cangialosi and Ken Daneyko.  Instead, I got what I assumed was the Canadiens broadcast, which I believe was on Sportsnet Canada.

On the broadcast, a statistic was put up on the screen which showed the goalies that had the worst goal support in the NHL over the last few seasons.  Second on the list, of course, was our own Cory Schneider, who they argued gets very little goal support from the Devils despite being an excellent goalie (others on the list included Michal Neuvirth and I believe Jhonas Enroth, although I am not positive on him.  Neuvirth definitely was).  They are indeed right, obviously.  Over the last couple seasons, the Devils have not had a great Goals For percentage, and they generally do not give Cory all that much of a cushion to work with in any given game.

However, I thought about it sitting there, and I think that this sole stat does not tell the entire story.   A goalie is given support by his team through two major, easily definable areas (among others): goals for and shots against.  A team may score 5 goals a night to give their goalie a good cushion, but they may allow 35 shots per game, allowing their goalie to be peppered with shots night in and night out.  In terms of this, the Devils actually really help Schneider.  Playing their low-event style of hockey, New Jersey allows very few shots against per game, forcing Cory to only make relatively few saves per night in comparison to other goaltenders in the NHL.

So to follow up my thought, let's check out how goalies in the NHL have been aided by their teams this year using both the Goals For stat and the Shots Against stat.  Through this, we can see how a team's scoring capabilities support their goaltender, but also how the team's defensive capabilities support the goalie by preventing shots.

For this, let's only look at 5 on 5 play, as special teams throws another whole angle into this research that makes it more difficult to analyze.  Information for this comes solely from Hockey Analysis, and I only plan to include goalies that are starters on their teams and have played at least 750 minutes.  This ensures that they have played enough games this season for the statistics to be fairly trustworthy.  The chart is sorted by the Avg. stat, which is an average of the goalie's ranking in both GF60 and SA60, based on this chart only.  Finally, the Goals For and Shots Against stats are averaged over 60 minutes of play, not specifically per game.  The numbers in parentheses in both the GF60 and SA60 columns are that player's ranking specifically in that stat, based on only the goalies in this chart.

Goalie

Team

GP

GF60

SA60

Avg.

Avg. Rank

Antti Niemi

Dallas Stars

28

2.66 (1)

27.73 (10)

5.5

1st

Mike Condon

Montreal Canadiens

26

2.36 (6)

26.75 (6)

6

2nd

Jonathan Quick

Los Angeles Kings

32

2.21 (10)

26.07 (3)

6.5

3rd

Braden Holtby

Washington Capitals

32

2.52 (3)

27.81 (12)

7.5

4th

Pekka Rinne

Nashville Predators

34

2.06 (18)

25.33 (2)

10

5th

Martin Jones

San Jose Sharks

31

2.07 (17)

26.23 (4)

10.5

6th

Devan Dubnyk

Minnesota Wild

32

2.19 (13)

27.71 (9)

11

7th

Jonathan Bernier

Toronto Maple Leafs

18

2.26 (7)

29.34 (18)

12.5

8th

Sergei Bobrovsky

Columbus Blue Jackets

25

2.19 (12)

29.33 (17)

14.5

9th

Ben Bishop

Tampa Bay Lightning

32

1.85 (24)

26.57 (5)

14.5

9th

Cam Ward

Carolina Hurricanes

28

1.65 (28)

24.07 (1)

14.5

9th

Thomas Greiss

New York Islanders

20

2.54 (2)

31.12 (28)

15

12th

Henrik Lundqvist

New York Rangers

33

2.52 (4)

30.35 (26)

15

12th

Karri Ramo

Calgary Flames

28

2.24 (9)

29.51 (21)

15

12th

Semyon Varlamov

Colorado Avalanche

27

2.26 (8)

29.91 (23)

15.5

15th

Ryan Miller

Vancouver Canucks

28

2.09 (16)

28.94 (15)

15.5

15th

Chad Johnson

Buffalo Sabres

25

2.06 (19)

27.89 (13)

16

17th

Jaroslav Halak

New York Islanders

20

1.94 (23)

27.74 (11)

17

18th

Jake Allen

St. Louis Blues

31

1.79 (27)

27.00 (8)

17.5

19th

Craig Anderson

Ottawa Senators

31

2.38 (5)

32.70 (31)

18

20th

Tuukka Rask

Boston Bruins

28

2.12 (15)

29.52 (22)

18.5

21st

Cory Schneider

New Jersey Devils

33

1.57 (30)

26.78 (7)

18.5

21st

Anders Nilsson

Edmonton Oilers

22

2.20 (11)

20.92 (27)

19

23rd

Petr Mrazek

Detroit Red Wings

26

1.99 (20)

29.36 (19)

19.5

24th

Roberto Luongo

Florida Panthers

32

1.98 (21)

29.48 (20)

20.5

25th

Corey Crawford

Chicago Blackhawks

33

1.83 (26)

29.17 (16)

21

26th

Mike Smith

Arizona Coyotes

22

2.17 (14)

31.14 (29)

21.5

27th

Frederik Andersen

Anaheim Ducks

20

1.25 (31)

28.57 (14)

22.5

28th

Marc-Andre Fleury

Pittsburgh Penguins

27

1.96 (22)

30.22 (25)

23.5

29th

Cam Talbot

Edmonton Oilers

22

1.84 (25)

29.96 (24)

24.5

30th

Steve Mason

Philadelphia Flyers

23

1.59 (29)

31.31 (30)

29.5

31st

First, I know I said that I was only putting starters into the chart, but I have two goalies from Edmonton and two from the Islanders, as they both have equal starts as of when I did this.  Also, there is no goalie from Winnipeg, as none of their goalies have played at least 750 minutes.  Michael Hutchinson leads the team, and he is around 100 minutes shy of reaching the 750 minute barrier (again, as of Thursday night when I compiled these numbers).

So, when averaging out the standings on this chart using both goals for and shots against, there are some interesting finds.  Let's start with Cory.  He jumped up when shots against were included.  Of the 31 goalies listed, he was ranked 30th in terms of GF60 at 5 on 5 play, with the Devils putting up a measly 1.57 goals per 60 minutes while he is on the ice.  The only goalie to have worse support is Frederik Andersen, as Anaheim has struggled to score this season.

However, Schneider is ranked 7th in terms of shots against per 60, as he has only faced 26.78 shots per 60, which is a pretty low number.  That stat jumped him up to an average grade of 18.5 (30+7=37/2=18.5).  In terms of this chart, that places him tied for 21st with Tuukka Rask.  That is still not a great ranking, and it means that overall, the Devils still do not support Schneider all that much.  However, at least it is a better idea of how much support he gets as opposed to just looking at Goals For, where he is next to last.  He does get more support than just the goals for stat would show us.

There are some other interesting finds as well, at least in my opinion.  One of the craziest is that Jonathan Bernier is ranked 8th on this list.  He had a notoriously poor start to the season, being demoted to the AHL to clear his mind for a time.  However, he has received great support in his 18 starts, so Leafs fans cannot necessarily claim that the skaters in front of him are leaving him out to dry.

While perhaps not as crazy, Niemi being at the top of the chart is interesting nonetheless.  He is not known as one of the top goaltenders in the league, but Dallas has really been helping him out when he plays.  He has the best goal support in the league, and faces the 10th fewest shots per game of anyone on this chart.  Any goalie would have a great chance of success with that kind of support.  The other goalies that receive great support are perhaps less interesting, as you would expect to see Quick, Holtby, Rinne, Jones, and Dubnyk high on this list.  All of those teams play well, score at a decent clip, and have quality blue lines.  Condon might be a little bit of a surprise, but if it were Carey Price, no one would be shocked, and they do play on the same quality team that is Montreal.

On the reverse, it is somewhat crazy how little support Fleury has received in Pittsburgh.  He is 3rd from the bottom on this chart, with a measly 1.96 GF60 and a high 30.22 SA60.  The Pens have not been scoring at a high clip, but their defense has still shown signs of being Swiss cheese at times.  Also, Crawford is rather low on this list, despite Chicago's excellent record.  He is so low mainly because Chicago has not provided him with much goal support, only getting a 1.83 GF60.  Mrazek and Luongo are similarly low on this list despite playing for teams with very good records.  They are winning despite receiving minimal support from their teams.

Finally, the Islanders are much nicer to Greiss than they are Halak, and Edmonton is much nicer to Nilsson than it is Talbot.  Weird.

Conclusion

In the end, the results still show that Cory Schneider does not receive all that much support from the skaters in front of him, at least in comparison to the other teams in this league.  However, when you look at shots against as well as goals for, you begin to see that he is not completely left alone out there.  The Devils defense does do a great job at preventing shots against, and as a result, Cory does not need to face as many shots as compared to most starting goalies in the NHL.  Preventing shots against is also a way to support your goalie, and in the case of New Jersey, it is really the only way that Cory is supported.  If the Devils can find any way to increase their scoring capabilities while maintaining their low event style of hockey, Cory would undoubtedly become one of the most protected and supported goaltenders out there.  For now, however, the team still may need to lean on him more than it would like.

Your Thoughts

After looking at the chart, what are your thoughts about the support that Cory Schneider gets from the Devils, especially in comparison to other goalies and teams in the NHL?  Do the numbers surprise you, or are they what you expected?  What about as compared to some of the other goalies in the league?  What can the Devils do to increase their support for Cory?  Please leave your comments below, and thanks for reading.