Coming into this season, there were a lot of question marks about what this Devils team would look like. Most pundits believed the Devils would be battling for the rights to draft Auston Matthews. However, they find themselves right in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. A large reason for that has been because of the play of Cory Schneider. Everyone knew that if the Devils were to have a chance at making the playoffs, he would have to stand on his head on most nights and he’s done that so far.
At 25-20-5 heading into the break, the Devils were tied with the Penguins with 55 points and are right on the cusp of the final playoff spot in the East. Schneider has been a big reason for that and is having one of the best seasons a Devils goaltender has had in almost a decade. His .929 save percentage is good for 7th in the NHL and is 6th amongst goalies who have logged 1250+ minutes. His .941 save percentage at even strength is best in the league for goalies with over 1500+ minutes through the All-Star break, and is just ahead of Roberto Luongo and Braden Holtby.
If Schneider were to have a save percentage better than .927, he would finish the season with the highest save percentage a Devils a goaltender has ever had. Brodeur’s career best save percentage was a .927 in 1996-97. For Schneider to finish the season with a save percentage better than that would solidify his season as one of the greatest a Devils’ goaltender has had in 20 years. That would be quite the accomplishment.
It’s pretty clear that Schneider’s season stacks up against the very best in the NHL. A lot of people have put Braden Holtby as the frontrunner to win the Vezina, while other names include Roberto Luongo and Corey Crawford. But should Schneider be the frontrunner at this point?
I took a quick look at Schneider’s stats compared to last year’s Vezina winner, Carey Price, through the All-Star break and their numbers are remarkably similar. At the All-Star break last season, Price had a .929 save percentage. That’s currently where Schneider sat at this year’s break. If we look at their even strength save percentage, Schneider bests Price. At this point last season, Price’s even strength save percentage was .938. As mentioned previously, Schneider is currently sitting at .941. While their numbers are close to similar, Schneider has a very slight edge.
Schneider’s numbers are on pace with those of Price’s from last season, but where does he stack against other Vezina candidates? Braden Holtby and Roberto Luongo both have .930 save percentages, which is almost the same as Schneider’s save percentage. Schneider bests them with his even strength save percentage, but it’s also a marginal difference.
Whether Schneider wins the Vezina or not remains to be seen. Even if he does not, he has firmly established himself as one of the game’s elite goaltenders. Since 2010, Schneider has a .927 save percentage. No goalie that has played 200+ games in that time span has a better save percentage than him. The next best save percentages are Tuukka Rask and Henrik Lundqvist at .924 while Carey Price is at .923 (via Hockey-Reference). Schneider has been really good for a really long time and his numbers are only getting better.
If there was any question on where he ranks among NHL goaltenders, they have undoubtedly been answered. He’s one of the best in the game and has been carrying a Devils team that struggles to score goals on a consistent basis. The Devils are set now and in the long-term with Schneider between the pipes and that should make them relatively competitive in years to come, which gives Devils fans reason to be excited in the years to come.