The number one question going into the season for the New Jersey Devils is what are they going to do with their goalie situation?
Cory Schneider is something that this team has quietly needed over the past couple of seasons. Martin Brodeur seems to have lost a step. You have to expect it from a goalie who is playing at an age when literally every other player at his position is retired. Brodeur, over the past three seasons, cannot get his save percentage above .910. This included the lowest percentage of his career last season with .901. The past three seasons, Schneider has not had a save percentage under .927.
The numbers are skewed when it comes to Brodeur. The past three seasons, Brodeur seems to have an amazing start to his season only to see an injury change the way he plays the rest of the season. Prior to last season’s injury, Brodeur was 8-1-3 with a .911 save percentage for a team that seemed to be on absolute fire.
Johan Hedberg came in when he went down with the back injury and was not nearly good enough to keep this team afloat. It seemed that Brodeur rushed himself back, because he was not the same player that he was in the first half of the season. The time that Schneider takes will only keep Brodeur healthy throughout the season. He isn’t looking to overthrow arguably the best goaltender of all time from the one job he has ever had.
He wants to learn from him for one season. Unlike in Vancouver, Schneider knows what the end game is with the Devils. He doesn’t have to worry about taking Brodeur’s job, because that isn’t what he was brought here to do. He doesn’t need to make up for a bad performance by Roberto Luongo anymore, he just needs to play his game when he is called upon.
The Devils have to play the most back to backs of any team in the NHL. They play 44 games back-to-back. That means there are an automatic 22 games that will be played by Schneider. You have to at least give him a third of the other games to give Brodeur legitimate rest throughout the season. With that math, you should expect around 30-35 games to be played by Schneider, and Marty to play the rest on his farewell tour.
He has not formally announced his retirement just yet, but one can only guess that the 41-year-old will put up the skates at the end of the 2013-14 season. This will be Schneider’s team after this season, but for now he bows to the best of all time.