The Devils beat Cory Schneider‘s old team, the Canucks, on Dec. 6 to move to 12-7-1 on the year.
Things looked pretty good.
What’s transpired since, though, has been anything but.
The Devils lost for the ninth time in 10 games last night, dropping a 5-2 decision at home to the Penguins. And Schneider, who has struggled and been tagged with many of the losses during this recent skid, voiced frustrations in the aftermath.
“I don’t know what happened,” Schneider said, per NorthJersey.com. “Again, a late goal in the second, 3-2, you would have thought the game was over. You would have thought it was 5-1 at that point. We just need to be stronger in the last minutes of periods, myself included, come up with the save, get to the third tied.
“But the last couple of games that’s been an issue. I just don’t know. They get the next one and there’s the game.”
Fortitude — be it mental or physical — has been an issue for the Devils all season long. Head coach John Hynes said the team was too easy to play against, and made a statement earlier this month by healthy scratching P.A. Parenteau and Beau Bennett, and giving tough guy Luke Gazdic his season debut.
Management was even more blunt.
“Play harder,” Hynes said of the message GM Ray Shero and his front office staffers had for the team. “Really. Play [bleeping] harder. That’s what I’m talking about. There’s a will they need. There’s a passion and emotion to our game. How many scrums have we been involved with? No one is mad at us. There’s got to be pushback in your game and pride in your game.
“Someone takes your lunch money, what the [expletive]? It’s not good. That’s something we established last year. It’s a tenacity to your game. Our team last year, we never gave up. That, to me, is what you’re trying to build, and that’s pride.”
Pride is another word that’s been thrown around lately. New Jersey sits 25th in the NHL in goals allowed per game, and Schneider’s numbers are among the worst for full-time starters: 10-12-5, 2.90 GAA, .904 save percentage.
“We’ve got to take some pride in not giving up four or five a night and bearing down and believing we can get back in these games,” he said. “We just have to change that mindset and be better going forward.”
Things don’t get any easier for the Devils moving forward. They’ll close out the year with a home-and-home series against the Caps, who’ve won seven of their last 10.