I guess I have to be the first one to say it, right? That's fine, I don't mind going out on a limb. If Cory Schneider isn't currently in the running for the Hart Trophy, and I don't suspect that he is, then they should scrap the entire description of the award. While I have no problem acknowledging that I am as biased as a person can possibly be regarding this subject, I have an extremely hard time thinking of three players that are undoubtedly more valuable to their team than Cory Schneider. The New Jersey Devils, after starting 0-3-1, have remained in the mix for a playoff spot. The same New Jersey Devils that looked to be undergoing a full blown rebuild no more than three months ago. The same New Jersey Devils whose forward depth rivals that of the Albany Devils. The same New Jersey Devils who many scoffed at and picked to finish close to last in the entire league. Hey, I was right there with them. I thought the team was going to be downright dreadful, and the fact that it's not is a true testament to the best, most understated player on the roster.
I'm not saying he's doing it all himself. Adam Henrique has blossomed in the player so many had hoped he would. Kyle Palmieri took whatever expectations I had for him, digested them, and casually shit them out before we even hit the new year. Travis Zajac simultaneously shoved everyone's foot in their mouth by regaining his form as a dependable two way center. All the pressure from additional responsibilities has molded Adam Larsson into an absolute gem of a top pairing defenseman. Andy Greene is as solid as ever, and has remained unfazed in leading a team that many assumed wouldn't be worth watching. The coaching staff, as young and inexperienced as they may be, has somehow instilled a sense of invincibility and resiliency in this team. Still, as much as they have overachieved, none of it is possible without Cory Schneider. Just because the Devils have been winning doesn't mean they are without flaws, and there's only one person who has proved adept at constantly covering up those flaws.
Last year, Cory Schneider stood on his head in nearly every single game the Devils managed to win. Something out of nothing isn't nearly vivid or critical enough. He made the occasional lemonade out of what can only properly be described as cat piss. This year he finally has some help, and he has been a rock that this team has leaned on to get out of every hard place they have found themselves in. He didn't get enough credit last year, and he damn sure isn't getting enough credit this year. I simply won't rest until 12 out of 24 hours on the NHL Network are dedicated to the play of Cory Schneider, and if were being honest I'm probably lowballing him. Someone get this celestial bastard some frankincense and myrrh. The guy saves so much that he makes Jesus look like a sieve. He's hoarded so many pucks he's about to have his own shitty reality television show. He was so favored to win the 'Ginger Of The Year' award that the other nominees dyed their hair and tried their luck as brunettes. Think I'm exaggerating? Look at the lineup the Devils just iced in beating the Dallas Stars....
Now raise your hand if you gasped when you read that. That's right, put them to the sky. Yeah, you too you ginger hating fuck in the front row. It's impossible not to be impressed with what this team has accomplished to this point, and Cory Schneider has been the steadying force that has allowed it all to come to fruition. Maybe he's not flashy enough. Maybe his stellar positioning trivializes the difficulty of his efforts to the untrained eye. Maybe people are just tired of the New Jersey Devils having great goaltending. Whatever the case may be, while Cory Schneider might not be the best goalie in the league, you would have a hell of a time convincing me he's not worthy of consideration as the most valuable player to his team.