When Curtis Sanford injured himself during Monday night's game, Canucks fans had a second chance to watch rookie Cory Schneider handle goal-tending duties. The kid could not salvage a victory, but it was only his second game in the NHL. We might as well give him a break now, but if Sanford’s back spasms are anything like Ed Belfour’s, then Cory Schneider is in for some serious on-the-job training.
Drafted 26th overall in 2004, Schneider was the fourth goaltender selected behind Al Montoya, Devan Dubnyk, and Marek Schwarz. Vancouver was certainly in need of a future net minder, with Dan Cloutier and Alex Auld holding down the back end. Nobody could really predict that the Canucks would acquire Roberto Luongo in 2006, solidifying their shaky situation.
In the meantime, Schneider improved his game with Boston College. He spent three years with the Eagles, helping capture two Lamoriello trophies in 2005 and 2007. In his outstanding '05-'06 year, he had a record-setting eight shutouts in 32 games.
He started his AHL career last year, creating a formidable tandem with Drew MacIntyre of the Manitoba Moose. While MacIntyre posted a save percentage of 0.922, Schneider eventually won over the starting job in the second half of the season. MacIntyre was signed by the Predators for the 2008 season, cementing Schneider’s position.
Prior to being called up by Vancouver this year, Cory Schneider led all AHL goalies in wins and goals against average. His team-record 10 STRAIGHT wins created a media frenzy on an immediate Canucks debut.
Schneider got his chance when captain Luongo went down with a groin injury. Luongo is now listed as "week-to-week," which makes his return date as mysterious as Kyle Wellwood’s diet. Just so we are clear, that means nobody really knows.
After sitting on the bench for two games as Curtis Sanford’s backup, Schneider got his chance against the Flames. Calgary’s fans are not known for helping out a rookie on the road, and they did not greet Schneider with rousing applause.
The Flames fired thirty-one shots on Schneider, including five power-play opportunities. The Canucks could only muster eighteen shots in a 3-1 loss. That was hardly enough offensive support for a rookie goaltender.
Monday night, the Canucks played the Blue Jackets with Sanford getting the start in net. After stopping all 11 first-period shots, Sanfordleft with back spasms. That left Schnieder as the last man standing. He was thrust into action by default, with little preparation. Letting in three goals on eighteen shots was a tough outing for the rookie, but his accolades cannot change what he is—a rookie.
As the only viable option for the Canucks, Cory needs to get off the "Schneid." Look it up sports fans, it is a real term! Thursday’s match-up against Detroit is the third in a seven-game road trip for the Canucks, and it should be a true test of their mettle.
With Sanford listed as day-to-day and nobody else to turn to, this rookie will now have to prove his worth. The hype has been built, with nothing left but the games to be played. If the defence can stand tall, then Cory Schneider could become a mainstay in the pipes for years to come.