April brought the end of the 2013-14 season for New Jersey Devils. Cory Schneider capped off his first season with five appearances in the month, a short but better outing for him. This post reviews the six goals he conceded.
Endings are inevitable. The New Jersey Devils, as a team, knew theirs was coming in mid-April. They would not make the playoffs. As a fan, I wasn't pleased about it. I can imagine the players, coaches, and executives felt more displeased. Nevertheless, there was a bright spot that became more familiar throughout last season: Cory Schneider. Schneider had a rough March, but he was doing better by month's end. That continued into April.
In his five appearances in April, Schneider only gave up six goals out of 133 shots. That's a save percentage of 95.5%, which is remarkable regardless of the length of the month. It was a performance that boosted his season's overall save percentage to just above 92%. Of course, that didn't necessarily mean the team was as fantastic. The Devils went 2-1-2, which was one of the better months of results. However, it was the story of the season for Schneider. He could deny nearly everything only for that to make the difference for one reason or another.
Giving up only six goals in five games is impressive on it's own. But what of the goals themselves? Were they stoppable goals or the sort of goal that one could not fault the goalie on? Let's review the last six goals Schneider allowed last season to answer those questions.
About the Review
For those of you who are unaware of what I'm doing, this is final review part of my annual month-by-month review of the goals against each Devils goaltender in each game (no shootouts) they played in.
I am focusing on identifying the "soft goals." Those goals against that should have been stopped by the goaltender. Here's how I am defining a soft goal: The goalie must have seen the shot coming; the shot was not deflected or change otherwise in motion; the goalie was in position to actually make the stop; and/or the goaltender made an uncharacteristic mistake that led to the goal. If the goal allowed qualifies, then I deemed the goal as "soft." In fact, the very last trait alone can make the difference in what is and is not a soft goal. Breakaways are done on a case-by-case basis; there I usually look to see whether the goalie has at least made an effort.
In addition to that, I look for other events on the goal allowed. I identify where Schneider was beaten on the goal, relative to Schneider's location. I note the game situation: even strength, power play, and shorthanded. I record whether the goal-scoring shot was a scoring chance. Any shot - not a deflection - from the crease out to the dots up to the top of the circles counts as a chance; anything outside of that does not. If I'm not certain, I will go against calling it a chance. Lastly, I denote any particular skater errors by a Devil on the goal allowed. I assign a skater error by name under "Errors" if the player did something significantly wrong that led to the goal such as a turnover or not covering their man. It's arguable that all goals allowed have an error or some kind; these are for the egregious mistakes that are made. I'm going to be more strict in calling them out. It also doesn't absolve the goaltender for a soft goal against.
Lastly, I have provided links to the video I looked at for each goal from NHL.com. This way if you want to see these for yourself and come to your own conclusion, then you can. These links will auto-play the video, so be forewarned when you click on them.
The 6 Goals Against Cory Schneider in April 2014
|Date||GA#||Where Beaten?||GA Description||Soft?||Video||S.E.||SC?||Sit.|
|4/1||83||On the goalie's left flank||3-on-2 rush, Leino feeds Ennis across the slot for a one-timer on Schneider's left flank||No||Link||--||Yes||ES|
|4/1||84||On the goalie's left flank||Hodgson attempts a saucer pass across the middle of the ice - and it was perfect. Right to Ennis at the left post, who buried it high.||No||Link||--||No||PP|
|4/4||85||Under the blocker||Fayne loses it to Backstrom, who passes it across the high slot to Backstrom. Elias slides to knock it away, but Grabovski recovers and feeds Ovechkin. Ovechkin moves up and fires a laser past Schneider.||Yes||Link||Fayne||Yes||ES|
|4/5||86||Over the glove arm||Harrison's slapshot gets blocked, Skinner recovers puck in left circle. He moves below dot and fires a high, hard one over the sliding Schneider.||No||Link||--||No||ES|
|4/7||87||Over the glove||Giordano gets set up for a slap shot one-timer and he powers it just over Schneider's glove.||Yes||Link||--||No||PP|
|4/10||88||Past the right pad||Zibanejad drove in deep on a rush, tossed it back into the slot to the trailing Hoffman. Hoffman one-timed it in.||No||Link||Carter||Yes||ES|
Once again, the location isn't listed in the first chart. So here's the summary of where Schneider was beaten on the goals against. Locations are relative to Schneider himself. While there were only six goals allowed, half went to that spot that was so frequent last month: high glove side.
If there's any main lesson to take from these reviews is that soft goals can happen even when the goalie is otherwise playing really well. In all five games, Schneider has conceded only one goal in four of them. Unfortunately, two of those fit the definition of soft as I've been using. In the bigger picture, they weren't that awful. The first, GA #85, was a combination of Mark Fayne making an error, Patrik Elias trying to make it right, but the Caps keeping the puck anyhow to get it to the best shooter on their team. Getting torched by Alexander Ovechkin stepping into the scoring chance area isn't all that bad. Alas, it was a clear shot that just beat Schneider. So it counted. The second is in a grayer area. GA #87 was the result of a one-timer by Mark Giordano. Normally, one-timers wouldn't count as soft because usually the goalie isn't going to be in position to make the stop. However, the one-timer was from distance and Schneider not only saw it but he was also in position. The shot just eluded him. If I were ranking soft goals, then I'd put them low on the list.
That being said, they shouldn't diminish what was a great month for Schneider in net. The other four goals were the sort that would beat most goaltenders short of a fortunate stop. In terms of other findings, three of the six came from that scoring chance area (GAs #83, 85, 88). Half of them went high, glove side (GAs #83, 84, 87). Two of the goals against were power play goals (GAs #84 and 87). There were only two skater errors that I counted: GA #85 (Fayne) and GA #88 (Ryan Carter).
Of course, this short month concluded the month-by-month review. Next week will yield the summary of all the posts related to Schneider's goal review. There should be plenty of interesting findings from all and perhaps a reason to look forward to Schneider being a part of the team for several years. He won't always bust out a 95.5% save percentage in a short month. And he may give up more than just a couple of soft ones. But his April helped build the notion that he has been the superior goaltender in his first season with the team. The summary will show that further.
It was a short month, but I would like your opinion on how Schneider performed. What did you make of the six goals he allowed? Was I too harsh in tagging two of them as soft? Did I miss any? Was there something else about them that you noticed? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Schneider's April in the comments. The season summary will come next week. Thank you for reading.
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