Most people in the hockey world were caught up in Taylor Hall‘s incredible 26-game point streak, which came to an end on Thursday night. But there’s another long streak that might make Devils fans a little nervous going forward.
Between mediocre play and injuries, it’s been a tough year for netminder Cory Schneider. The 31-year-old missed 16 games because of a groin injury between Jan. 25 and Feb. 27. He’s dropped all three decisions since returning, including a 3-2 loss to the Jets on Thursday night.
Schneider hasn’t come away with a victory since Dec. 27. He’s also dropped 10 consecutive decisions (0-8-2) since then.
“They deserve better from me. It’s not fair to my teammates to have other goalies come in here and outplay me on a regular basis lately,” Schneider told NJ.com after the loss to Winnipeg. “So it’s just not good enough by me by any means.
“They did about everything you could ask and deserved better. At least a point. It’s on me to dig deep and find a way to execute better and just be better all around for them. It’s not a fun feeling, but it’s not something you can wallow in or feel bad for yourself. There’s no time or energy for that. It’s about me putting my head down, working hard and just executing better. It’s as simple as that.”
Backup Keith Kinkaid has filled in admirably while Schneider’s been injured, but the Devils need their No. 1 goalie to play like he can if they want to make the playoffs. New Jersey is currently sitting in the first wild card slot, but Columbus, who is in the final playoff spot, is just one point behind them and the Panthers, who are on the outside looking in, are three points back with three games in hand.
Sure, injuries could be a reason for his sluggish play, but this is his second underwhelming season in a row. Schneider posted a 20-27-11 record with a 2.82 goals-against-average and a .908 save percentage in 2016-17. Even though the Devils were bad, they still expected more from their franchise goaltender.
This is a young hockey team that needs their goalie to find his game in a hurry. As positive as this season has been for them, narrowly missing out on the playoffs would be a huge disappointment after the year they’ve had.
Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.