For the fifth consecutive season, the Vancouver Canucks are the champions of the Northwest Division. This one did not come as easy as it has in previous years, but it assures them of at least the no. 3 seed in the Western Conference heading into the playoffs.
A large focus for this team for much of the season has been their situation between the pipes. Prior to the beginning of the regular season, after a summer of shopping Roberto Luongo, Cory Schneider was named the Canucks’ starting goaltender.
While it has been a move that has come with some growing pains, Schneider has proven that he is capable of carrying the load of a starting goaltender. As he prepares to head into his first postseason as the starter, it’s probably good that Schneider has shaken off some of those early woes.
Schneider has had a couple of egg-laying performances that have led to more time for Luongo, but there’s been no question about who the starter is for most of the year. Schneider’s numbers on the year are very good, with a goals-against average of just 2.11 and a save percentage of .927. Heck, those are some Vezina-worthy numbers.
What certainly bodes well for the playoffs is the fact that Schneider has been particularly strong in the month of April. Two of his shutouts have come in his nine starts this month. He also has four performances in which he’s allowed two or less goals.
It will be interesting to see how Schneider reacts to having the starting job in the postseason. We’ve already seen him perform very well in relief of Luongo. But there’s a difference between the expectations that come with the starting job and the life of a backup goaltender.