The Devils’ hopes of making the post-season were slim already, but they may be non-existent as New Jersey will be without goaltender Cory Schneider for at least two weeks.
Following the Devils’ 6-1 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Sunday night, New Jersey coach John Hynes said Schneider is set to miss at least the next two weeks with a Grade 1 MCL sprain.
Schneider, 29, fell injured during the Devils’ 4-2 loss to the Dallas Stars Friday night. The Stars were on a power play early in the third period when a shot was deflected wide and rebounded onto the tape of Dallas’ Jason Spezza, who was alone to Schneider’s right. In an attempt to scramble back to the post, Schneider pushed hard to his right, jamming his leg into the post to stop Spezza’s shot. Schneider almost immediately appeared injured:
Through 55 games this season, Schneider has easily been the Devils’ most valuable player. His 26-23-6 record may not be sparkling, but Schneider is leaned upon heavily in New Jersey and his 2.17 goals-against average and .923 save percentage rank among the top 10 in those categories.
If Schneider misses all of the next two weeks, he’ll be out for six of the Devils’ 15 remaining games, and if Sunday’s loss to the Penguins is any indication things might not be pretty in New Jersey. The Devils currently sit only six points out of the final wild-card spot, but they’re 5-6-1 in games Schneider didn’t start.
The Devils aren’t going to bother rushing Schneider back into the lineup, though, even with the club having an outside shot at making the playoffs. Hynes said they’ll handle Schneider just as they would any other player.
“The most important thing we want to do is make sure that if a player is going to be in our lineup, it's going to be good for the player and good for the team,” Hynes told NorthJersey.com’s Tom Gulitti. “But, it's always about the player first and we want to make sure that if and when Cory's ready we're not going to push him back. He needs to come back when he's ready and we feel is going to give him the best chance to be the goalie he can be. That's what we want for him.”
Keith Kinkaid got the start in goal for the Devils Sunday. With Schneider out, New Jersey recalled goaltender Yann Danis from the Albany Devils Saturday, and he’ll likely remain the backup netminder for the duration of Schneider’s absence.