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NHL New Jersey Devils

New Jersey Devils: Travis Zajac Takes Goal Off Shoulder, Happy to Give Corey Schneider a Win

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

When the New Jersey Devils traded with the Vancouver Canucks for goalie Corey Schneider, it was assumed the team was finally ready to, at the very least, consider passing the torch down from longtime legend Martin Brodeur. After a record breaking career that will no doubt end in the NHL Hall of Fame, the 41-year-old Brodeur was primed to ride off in the sunset during his final year while the Devils could rest easy knowing they were still solid in net.

So far, the Schneider era hasn’t exactly gotten off to the start the Devils had hoped for. Despite posting an impressive .914 save percentage and 2.13 GAA, Schneider only has five wins to his name. The problem seems to be the lack of support he’s getting from his teammates in terms of giving him a solid enough lead to defend. As a result, Brodeur, who’s stats aren’t as good as Schneider, is getting more playing time due to the fact that he’s won more games. Schneider had been hoping to finally become a starting goalie in the league after participating in a non-stop netminder carousel with Roberto Luongo in Vancouver, but for the time being this won’t be the case.

Last night, the Devils took on the New York Islanders. Schneider, who’d only won four of his first 17 starts, got the nod in net. The Islanders tied the game midway through the third period off a Travis Zajac turnover. The Devils forward made up for his gaffe later, though, as he took a shot off the shoulder that bounced into the net. The goal ended up being the game-winner.

Of course, Zajac would’ve preferred the goal to come off his stick and not his shoulder. Despite the sacrifice he made to win the game, Zajac was happy to take the bruise because it meant Schneider could finally get a win.

“He’s been battling hard and he deserved that one,” Zajac said.

It certainly sounds like the Devils realize how frustrating it must be for Schneider to perform well through most of the season yet not have a solid record to show for it. One would think the players know they need to put forth a better effort in front of him in order to bring him more wins.

As of now, the team sits just outside of the playoff picture, tied with the eighth place Philadelphia Flyers. If they want to make the final push to get in, they’ll need to continue playing well in front of Schneider.

Casey Drottar is an NHL writer for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @CDrottar19 or “Like” him on Facebook