It seemed like the Devils had one of the best goaltending tandems heading into the season, but that hasn’t panned out for them yet.
The New Jersey Devils made arguably the most shocking move of the offseason, as they acquired goaltender Cory Schneider from the Vancouver Canucks for their ninth overall pick in this summer’s draft. Now, it’s too early to say whether or not London Knights’ Bo Horvat, the player the Canucks drafted with that ninth-overall pick, will end up being the player Vancouver expects them to be, but it seemed like the Devils got the better end of this deal early on.
Long time goaltender Martin Brodeur is on the last year of his contract with New Jersey, and many Devils’ fans were concerned that their immediate future between the pipes looked bleak. To go from arguably the best goaltender of all time to a question mark would’ve been extremely frightening for Devils fans, but with the addition of Schneider they no longer needed to worry. At the young age of 27, the five-year veteran would be more than capable of serving as the starter after Brodeur retired after this season. Looking to the even more immediate future, this was even better for New Jersey. The Devils looked to have one of the best goaltending tandems in the league heading into the season, with a no-doubt Hall of Famer in Brodeur and a young stud in Schneider, but thus far it has not really panned out.
The Devils currently allow three goals per game, which is 22nd in the NHL. With goaltenders like Brodeur and Schneider this shouldn’t be, but thus far they haven’t lived up to expectations. Brodeur, who was injured much of last season, is 1-2-2 with a 3.32 goals against average and a .871 save percentage, and although Schneider is a little better at 2.14 GAA with a .915 save percentage, his record is also poor at 1-3-2. So the Devils went from what looked like an unstoppable goaltending tandem to a very vulnerable one very quickly.
Why has this happened? Well, Brodeur just doesn’t seem like the goaltender that he used to be, and this makes sense considering he is 41 years old. 20 years in the NHL is a long time for a player, especially a goaltender, but Brodeur rarely let his age show, looking like he was in his prime and in better condition than some of the younger net minders in the league. Now, however, with his injury last season and his slow start this season, it may be very possible that he is starting to feel his age. Heading into the season it was a forgone conclusion that Brodeur was the starting goaltender and Schneider would be his backup, but now there is speculation that Schneider is going to be the number one and Brodeur will be his backup. In fact, Brodeur said earlier in the week that he felt Schneider had been playing better this season and deserves to be the number one goaltender, something that Brodeur never would have said a year or two ago.
To make matters even more complicated, Schneider was put on Injured Reserve Monday due to a lower body injury, which is retroactive to his game last Thursday against his former Canuck team. Schneider is allowed to return Friday against the Philadelphia Flyers, but this is just another red flag for the Devils. With Brodeur not playing the way he used to and Schneider struggling and now injured, the Devils might have a big problem at goaltender. The question no longer is who is outplaying the other to be number one on the team, but who is the worse of the two and deserves to be the backup.
It is still early in the season, and both Schneider and Brodeur could very well turn it around, but for a team like the Devils, who rely so heavily on their defense and goaltending due to their lack of offense, it could cause them to fade very quickly in the Metropolitan Division.