Jason Brough


Schneider wants to have that ‘playoff feeling’ again

The New Jersey Devils are going to miss the playoffs for a fifth straight season, and Cory Schneider isn’t getting any younger.

Schneider, who turns 31 later this month, has been one of the NHL’s best regular-season goalies of the past decade. Yet after backing up Roberto Luongo in Vancouver and then getting traded to New Jersey in the summer of 2013, he only has six career postseason starts to his name.

“I came from very successful years in Vancouver,” Schneider told NorthJersey.com recently. “The success we had was tough to match. When you’re early in your career, that’s all you expect.”

He added, “That feeling, the playoff feeling, it’s the best feeling there is. I made a commitment here because I felt this team had a good, long-range plan and future and I still believe that. I’m a guy who wants to be part of the solution.”

Schneider is signed through 2021-22, so it’s not like the Devils are in danger of losing him. But with a goalie of his caliber, even though his numbers are down this season, there has to be a real sense of urgency in the organization to right the ship, and right it fairly soon.

Unfortunately, while the past few drafts have added some decent prospects to the system, the Devils do not appear on the verge of a dramatic turnaround. Currently, they’re on a nine-game losing streak. Their most recent defeat came at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche, the worst team in the league.

Schneider said he’s had “no indication from anybody that I’m not a part of the solution here,” but if GM Ray Shero were to shop his starter, there would be considerable interest, to say the least.

“That’s a conversation you can have at the end of the year,” said Schneider, who does have a no-trade clause in his contract.

‘Absolutely ridiculous’ — Voracek frustrated with no Olympic deal


It’s no secret that NHL players want to go to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. They haven’t been shy about saying so.

Yesterday, Flyers forward Jakub Voracek really wasn’t shy about saying so.

“Absolutely ridiculous,” Voracek said, per CSN Philly. “We have it once every four years. I read something that (NHL deputy commissioner) Bill Daly said we’re not going. Nobody wants you to go. The players want to go. Why you’re saying you’re not going? You’re not part of the players’ association. … Nobody wants you there. They want the players.”

The last Olympic update that commissioner Gary Bettman shared was not all that encouraging.

“There’s absolutely nothing new,” Bettman said Wednesday, per NHL.com. “I think the overwhelming sentiment of the teams is that it’s very disruptive on the season, and there’s somewhere between fatigue and negativity on the subject.”

But Bettman refused to set a deadline to make a decision one way or the other, so there’s still time to get something done.

According to outspoken agent Allan Walsh, Voracek’s remarks were “just the beginning.”

Presumably, Walsh meant that other players will soon be speaking up, and speaking up loudly, just like Voracek did yesterday.

“The players want to go, I guarantee you that,” said Voracek, who represented the Czech Republic at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia. “I want to see how you are going to hold [Alex] Ovechkin back. The Russian players. Tell them they can’t go.”

Related: IOC chief calls it a priority for NHLers to be at Olympics

The Isles’ epic nine-game road trip is almost over


It’s nearly over.

After tomorrow’s game in St. Louis, the New York Islanders can finally head home.

The Isles played their eighth straight road game last night in Vancouver, where they beat the Canucks, 4-3, in overtime. With the win, they improved to 5-2-1 in those eight games. Even if they lose to the Blues, the lengthy stretch away from Brooklyn — which was split into one three-game trip, and another six-game trip — can be deemed a success.

Granted, it was not a very impressive performance against the lowly Canucks, who ended up outshooting the Isles, 39-28. A goal by Vancouver rookie Troy Stecher sent the game to overtime with 19.3 seconds left.

“It wasn’t a great game,” captain John Tavares told reporters. “They came out hard. They’re playing desperate and threw everything at us. We did a good job of giving ourselves an opportunity to win. Unfortunate to give up one late, but good perseverance overcoming the way we played today and getting a big goal in overtime.”

With the two points, the Isles stayed just ahead of Toronto for the second wild-card spot in the East. The Maple Leafs had temporarily moved into that wild-card spot with a win over the Flyers.

“There’s going to be games every night when teams are going to win that are right around us,” said the Isles’ overtime hero, Andrew Ladd, per Newsday. “We just have to keep winning games. We know what’s ahead of us.”

In a slightly cruel twist, the Isles only return home for one game, Monday against the Hurricanes. Then they have to get right back on a plane to play the next night in Carolina.

After that, they get to go home again.

Drafted a decade ago, DiDomenico will finally make NHL debut

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Drafted in 2007 by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Chris DiDomenico will finally make his NHL debut tonight for the Ottawa Senators.

For the 28-year-old forward, it’s been quite the journey to the top league in the world. During his pro career, he’s played for Toledo of the ECHL. He even went to Italy for a couple of years.

Signed last month out of the Swiss league, DiDomenico will make his Senators debut against the Coyotes in Arizona.

From the Ottawa Citizen:

It has been a long road for DiDomenico, who suffered a broken femur and knee in his final year of junior hockey, playing for current Senators coach Guy Boucher with Drummondville of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

“For him, it’s his first NHL game and he’s going to be nervous,” Boucher told reporters. “Don’t try to do too much. He’s got great hockey sense. He’ll know what to do with the puck. He’s just got to make sure he knows where he’s going defensively and he’s like everyone else, paying the price, and he’ll be fine.”

Related: The Sens are feeling good about their system

Pre-game reading: On the maturation of Josh Ho-Sang


— Up top, Bob McKenzie discusses the kind of deals the Vegas Golden Knights will be pursuing ahead of the expansion draft.

— Speaking of the expansion draft, don’t blame the NHL for keeping each team’s protected list private. Blame the general managers instead, writes Greg Wyshynski: “These are the general managers thinking they’re doing right by their players. Trying not to hurt feelings. Trying not to open certain guys up for social media finger pointing. And, obviously, they’re trying to keep the lists away from fan scrutiny so their own decisions aren’t ridiculed.” (Yahoo Sports)

— Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News remembers the first time he saw Josh Ho-Sang play. And given Ho-Sang did “something really stupid” on that occasion, it’s fair to say the 21-year-old Islanders prospect needed some time to mature. Ho-Sang scored his first NHL goal Tuesday against the Oilers. (The Hockey News)

— Did you know Beau Bennett can play the piano? Devils coach John Hynes didn’t, until Bennett sat down at a piano in a hotel lobby in Minnesota. “He was fantastic,” Hynes said. “I don’t remember what he played, but I do remember it was pretty good.” (New York Times)

— A list of five guys who could be gunning for revenge against their former teams in the playoffs. Claude Julien is one of them. And yes, a Canadiens-Bruins series would be absolutely riveting. As it stands right now, a second-round meeting is definitely possible. (Sportsnet)

— An Irish hurler (it’s a sport) did an exchange with the Vancouver Canucks, then went home and said he was shocked at the NHL’s drinking culture. Though his claims have been called into question, we do wonder if “calling a change-up” will become part of the hockey lexicon from now on. (Irish Times)

Enjoy the games!