When the Devils acquired former Vancouver Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider at the 2013 NHL Draft, there was the question of how many starts he would take away from Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur.
GM Lou Lamoriello made it clear that Brodeur is still the team's starting goaltender, but there is no doubt that Schneider is going to see his fair share of games in 2013-14.
Brodeur has appeared in more than 70 games just once over the past five seasons, suffering a number of injuries and seeing his time reduced in favor of backup Johan Hedberg. While he is still one of the greatest goaltenders of all time, there is no question the Devils need a quality backup behind Brodeur this year.
New Jersey has that in Schneider, who has a career 55-26-8 record and a 2.20 GAA since joining the NHL in 2008. He was dominant in the NHL's last full season in 2011-12, going 20-8-1 with a minuscule 1.96 GAA.
Devils fans are going to see a lot of Cory Schneider this year, but the question is how much.
New Jersey has a league high 22 back-to-back games in 2013-14, starting with the first two games of the season on Oct. 3 and Oct. 4. This alone opens the door for Schneider to see some playing time, as Brodeur usually took a night off in favor of Hedberg during the 2011-12 season when it came to back-to-backs.
As for the rest of the season, Schneider will get a lot of time to play on the weekends.
According to In Lou We Trust, the Devils will play in Friday to Saturday back-to-back games for six straight weeks from Nov. 29 to Jan. 4. That opens the door for (at least) six starts for Schneider and potentially more, depending on how he plays early on in the season.
Here's a monthly breakdown of how many games I think Schneider will get this season:
October: 3 (@ Vancouver 10/8, @ Ottawa 10/17, vs. Vancouver 10/24)
There's no chance you'll see Schneider during the team's first two games against the Penguins and Islanders (you don't sit Brodeur during the first game or Opening Night at the Rock), but I wouldn't be shocked to see Peter DeBoer put him in net on Oct. 8 against his former team.
New Jersey will travel to Vancouver to face off against the Canucks the day after playing Edmonton, and I don't think the Devils use Brodeur in four straight games to start the year. Expect this to be Schneider's first regular-season game as a Devil.
The Devils have a game against Ottawa to end a five-game road trip right before traveling home to play the Rangers, so Schneider will likely get a start there. New Jersey then plays Vancouver again on the 24th, so that gives Schneider a chance to face Luongo and the Canucks again.
The Devils have four back-to-backs in November, so that explains for the increase in playing time for Schneider.
It will be the first time Brodeur will get to face Zach Parise and David Clarkson, and there is no doubt that some extra motivation will be put into his game for those matchups. Yes, divisional games are important even early in the season, but Schneider is more then capable of holding down the fort against the Flyers.
The same can be said for the Nov. 20 matchup against the Ducks. The Devils play the Los Angeles Kings for the first time since the 2012 Stanley Cup Final on the 21st, so Brodeur will get the nod in that game as well.
December: 4 (vs. Detroit 12/6, vs. Tampa Bay 12/14 , vs. Anaheim 12/20, vs. Columbus 12/27)
Career-wise, December is the worst month for Schneider to play in.
In 15 appearances (11 starts), Schneider is 6-4-2 with a career-worst 3.12 GAA and .893 save percentage. It is also one of three months where he has never recorded a shutout.
The Devils should be hesitant to start Schneider in December, and with only four back-to-backs they will get that opportunity. Brodeur will get the opportunity to take on the Canadiens twice and will play all seven divisional games the Devils have in December.
Schneider will get four home games, rather than having to play on the road, which should take the pressure off despite playing teams like Detroit and Anaheim. He also gets a favorable matchup at home against the Blue Jackets, a team he is 6-1-1 with a 1.92 GAA against all-time.
January: 5 (@ Buffalo 1/4, vs. Florida 1/11, @ Phoenix 1/18, @ St. Louis 1/28, @ Nashville 1/31)
Back-to-backs account for the games against Buffalo, Florida and Nashville.
In 5 appearances (all starts) against them, Schneider is 3-1-1 with a 0.99 GAA and two shutouts. The matchup will be the fourth and final game of a four-game road trip, so there's a very good chance Schneider starts.
The Jan. 28 start against the Blues come two days after the Devils take on the Rangers in the Stadium Series in the Bronx, so Martin Brodeur will likely get a well-deserved rest as the team travels to St. Louis.
February: 1 (2/7 vs. Edmonton)
The Olympic break during the shortest month of the year only gives the Devils four games in February, but Cory Schneider will still likely get at least one start against the Oilers in the beginning of a back-to-back.
Schneider could potentially be heading to Sochi to represent Team USA, so Brodeur will get the start against Washington on Feb. 8 right before teams start their break.
March: 5 (vs. San Jose 3/2, @ Detroit 3/7, vs. Florida 3/14, vs. Toronto 3/23, vs. Phoenix 3/27).
Schneider also gets another favorable start at home against Phoenix, from which I stated he has fantastic numbers against.
April: 2 (@ Carolina 4/5, @ Ottawa 4/10)
The season ends on April 13th when the Devils take on Boston, but a number of scenarios could be in play while the season dwindles down.
If the Devils are still in contention they'll likely want Brodeur in net to face teams like the Bruins, Islanders and Capitals. However, if they are a lock for the playoffs, they won't want to overwork him heading into the postseason.
The two games against Carolina and Ottawa make sense for Schneider because they are parts of a back-to-back and only one is a divisional matchup. Schneider also has a 0.96 GAA against the Senators in one career start.
So here's the recap: 26 starts (16 home, 10 away), five against Metropolitan Division rivals.
I'm no Nostradamus, so there's absolutely no way to tell that these will be the games Schneider appears in this season. However, these seem to be the most logical considering how the Devils schedule is built.
The Devils don't need Schneider to be perfect, but if he can pick up an extra 10-12 wins next season, it will put New Jersey in very good shape to make the playoffs. If Schneider was on the team last year instead of Hedberg, I believe the Devils make the postseason even with Brodeur and Ilya Kovalchuk missing time.
Regardless of when he plays, the arrival of Cory Schneider is going to change the future of goaltending in New Jersey. The 2013-14 season will have a lot of new faces, but the prominence of Devils hockey should remain the same.
Joe has covered the Devils on Bleacher Report since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @jkuchie
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