Failing to score yet again Sunday night against the Wild, the Devils have now been blanked in their past two contests and in four of 14 overall. That’s zero goals scored in 28.5 percent of their games. The post-Kovalchuk era in New Jersey has been characterized by offensive drought, and this is bad news for Cory Schneider’s Olympic hopes.
Schneider wasn’t exceptional against the Wild, but even if he allowed one goal instead of three, he’d have lost. It’s difficult to make an impression when you’re piling up losses, and the Devils’ mediocre attack doesn’t appear capable of winning many games. (Jaromir Jagr, at this point in his career, should be a secondary scoring threat, not a team’s primary weapon.) Schneider’s record is a dismal 1-4-2. His .907 save percentage, 2.27 goals-against average and one shutout are respectable, but he’ll need to post superb numbers over the next month to stay in the conversation for the U.S. Olympic team in Sochi.
It doesn’t help that the Red, White and Blue is loaded between the pipes. Considering the nation’s best centers are Joe Pavelski, Derek Stepan, Ryan Kesler and David Backes, it hardly makes sense that they have more elite goalies than any other country. Jonathan Quick, Jimmy Howard, Craig Anderson and Ryan Miller are top candidates for the team, while Ben Bishop has made an early statement for consideration. Quick is a lock. Miller may be included because of his experience at the 2010 Vancouver games. Howard’s profile has steadily risen and he backstops an elite team. Anderson was a Vezina and Hart contender last year before missing time with injury. This will be a difficult group for Schneider to crack.
Does Schneider deserve one of Team USA’s top three spots? Based on his performance the past three seasons, absolutely he does. He’s only played 25, 33 and 30 games in those years, but has an overall goals-against average of 2.10 and a save percentage of .931. Schneider’s excellence was the catalyst for the Roberto Luongo soap opera. Vancouver GM Mike Gillis was convinced the better option for his club was moving an established star to make way for Schneider.
Schneider has a shot to make the Olympic squad, but he may have to wait for 2018. Maybe the Devils will acquire some scoring punch by then.