Canucks Schneider keeps winning in sporadic starts
Despite waiting 13 days since his last start, Vancouver’s rookie backup made 33 saves in a 3-1 road win over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night. And while he got a lot of help from defensively responsible teammates and a sometimes stagnant Avalanche attack that hadn’t played since Saturday, Schneider was full value for the win, with a great one-time save on Kyle Quincy coming off his left post to the right slot, and a glove stop on Matt Duchene on a breakaway after a turnover.
“It seems every game I play I get more confident, more comfortable,” Schneider said.
The early numbers seem to prove it.
With the win, Schneider improves to 3-0-0 this season with a staggering 0.90 goals-against average and .969 save percentage. Those are all better than No. 1 Roberto Luongo (4-3-2, 2.61, .915), but far from creating a Canucks crease controversy, the strong start by Schneider should be a blessing, allowing coach Alain Vigneault to finally follow through on an annual pledge to rest his workhorse starter more often, and play the backup 20 to 25 games.
“I want to be a guy that they can count on winning games, not just go in there and hope you win,” said Schneider. “Stats are more of a reflection of how my team is playing in front of me.”
Schneider’s impressive play doesn’t make him the best goalie in the league. Far from it, even if his numbers are both in the top-3, just behind the absurd start of Boston’s Tim Thomas. Schneider wasn’t even the hottest goalie in the NHL on Thursday night, not with the always overlooked Mathieu Garon posting a second straight shutout for Columbus, Jaroslav Halak adding his third goose egg for St. Louis, and Jonathan Bernier added his first shutout to an amazing early season run in Los Angeles.
Schneider is, however, the only one on that list posting those numbers in sporadic starts, and as the 24-year-old told InGoal Magazine on the eve of the season, it has a lot to do with a change in his style of play under new Canucks goalie coach Rollie Melanson. By positioning himself deeper in the crease – he used to start out aggressively and drift back with the attack – Schneider has reduced his reliance on rhythm and timing.
About the only thing he needs to work on now is that first career shutout. He’s lost his bid for a blanking in the final few minutes of his last two starts, and may have to turn to Luongo for advice after the veteran posted his 52nd shutout Monday against New Jersey, trailing only Devils’ star Martin Brodeur (by a whopping 60) among active goaltenders on the all time NHL list.
“I asked Roberto to teach me how to finish games off since he’s got quite a few of them,” Schneider joked after the victory in Colorado. “But the win is what’s important.”
Especially when you have to wait a couple weeks for your next chance to get one.