"The New Jersey Devils play better in front of Keith Kinkaid."
Even if you follow the team from afar, that's something you have heard deafeningly whispered about their inability to win a single game in which Cory Schneider gets the start. As of late, it's something that's become harder and harder to believe, as the quick fix of leaning heavily on Keith Kinkaid has stopped the bleeding about as well as a bandaid placed over a bullet wound.
Which honestly makes it all the more depressingly impressive that they went to such laughable lengths to keep that narrative alive last night. By the time they tipped, flubbed, or whacked the third puck into their own net, I was just about damn sure that they had taken it as a personal challenge to prove that they had saved a whole new level of dysfunctional defense for a goaltender who has become nothing short of disgraced.
Count em', one...
And, despite making solid contact, three strikes...the Devils arrrrre OUT of luck when #35 is in net...
The first goal he let up was an eye-roller, but Schneider made plenty of huge saves and gave his team plenty of timely opportunities to help out his shockingly sad record as a starter only for them to, almost literally, throw them back in his face.
The truth is, aside from netting a hat trick of self-harm, the Devils played pretty well in picking up a third of four possible points on a road trip that, historically speaking, has given them fits. Unfortunately, it's hard to think of it as even a small victory as they all but beat themselves prior to a shootout loss. One less own goal or one less missed breakaway and we're talking about a team whose inventory is still clearly lacking in the confidence department finding a way to turn things around while dealing with the ruthlessness of the road. Instead, we're left wondering if Cory Schneider accidentally sent a dick pic to a group chat containing every team mom over the offseason, as that seems just as rational a reason as any for how actively disaster prone they've been in front of him during what's been a relentless return from hip surgery.
If they manage to secure a win in San Jose then it'll be easier to forget that they pumped another elusive point passed their own netminder, as 5-outta-6 on the West Coast ain't bad. What won't be so easily forgotten is that their goaltending is as much a problem in and of itself as it is a byproduct of a bigger problem. That being that their mettle - offensively, defensively and otherwise - is currently as flimsy as tin foil...no matter who has the misfortune of taking a disproportional amount of blame simply by being in net on any given night.