Where does Devils goalie Cory Schneider go from here?

March 23, 2018 - The Star Ledger - View Full Article

Devils goalie Cory Schneider is treating practices and skates as his games right now in an effort to find his game. Watch video

PITTSBURGH -- Cory Schneider's first start since March 8 went far from planned.

Four goals over the opening 30:31 ended Schneider's night early in the Devils' 6-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday at SAP Center in San Jose, and it extended a long slide for the struggling goalie.

He is now winless in his last 12 starts dating back to Dec. 27, allowing three or more goals in each outing. Illness and injury played a role in prolonging that drought.

With Keith Kinkaid getting a majority of the work in the starter's net in March, Schneider has had to find other ways to recapture his game.

"All I've ever tried to do is put my head down and work as hard as I can," Schneider said. "Sometimes you're able to play your way out of it. This isn't one of those instances for me. I've been fortunate, the coaches have been good with me in terms of that, but we're at the point of the year where we don't have so much time.

"So for me, all you can do is put everything you have into your practices, your morning skates, my time with Rollie (Melanson). I gotta treat those like my games right now and work my way out of it. There's not real magic answer. You can't just flip a switch or hope something good's going to happen. You have to make it happen yourself."

Schneider will serve as backup to Kinkaid in Friday's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Coach John Hynes has not named a starter for Saturday's home game against the Tampa Bay Lightning to finish a back-to-back.

Since Schneider returned on March 1 after missing five weeks with a groin injury, Kinkaid has starters six of the Devils' 10 games and will make his seventh start in 11 on Friday. In the mean time, the Devils keep working to get Schneider right.

"He's a very good player, he cares, he's got a lot of talent," Hynes said. "He's obviously not happy with his game, and we'd like to see it a little bit better. But how do you fix that? It's like everything. I think come to grips with, here's what's good about his game. It's not all bad. Sometimes it's like when you win or you lose or you struggle, it's not as bad as you think it is. Sometimes when you're doing really well, it's not as good as you think it is. It's somewhere in the middle.

"I don't think he's far off, so we'll continue to work with him, try to help him mentally, try to help him with his technique. When you have a guy like him that cares the way that he does and works the way that he does, he'll work his way through it. Our job is to support him through it and help him get better."

To get out of his prolnged slump, Schneider is relying on the same approach that has helped him throughout his NHL career.

"If you're hyper focused on the result, 60 minutes becomes a long time," Schneider said. "I think for us and me especially, it's about staying in that moment and making sure you're doing everything right during the game and taking it one save at a time. I know it's cliche, and I've used that a lot in my career.

"You just have to make the next save and worry about the next one. Don't worry about what's going to happen in the third period, don't worry about what's happened already. If you start focusing on the end result, you get ahead of yourself and your lose track of what's happening in front of you."

Chris Ryan may be reached at cryan@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRyan_NJ. Find NJ.com Devils on Facebook.

What Ben Lovejoy said to Devils following Thursday's practice

March 23, 2018 - The Star Ledger - View Full Article

Devils defenseman Ben Lovejoy spoke up in a team huddle following Thursday's practice in Pittsburgh. Watch video

PITTSBURGH -- Coach John Hynes typically ends a practice with a huddle at center ice, where he addresses the Devils before the players head to the locker room or do some extra work on the ice.

After saying his piece, Hynes opened the floor to the players. He made eye contact with defenseman Ben Lovejoy, and Lovejoy took the opportunity.

"I told the guys, we are a good team and have been all year," Lovejoy told NJ Advance Media. "We are really hard to play against when we're playing out style of hockey. We've gotten away from that the last two games. We haven't played a style of hockey that we need to play to be successful.

"When we're playing New Jersey Devils hockey, we suck to play against. And I know, I play against these guys at practice every day, and we're a really tough team to beat. And we need to get back to that Friday."

Zacha, Wood, Gibbons could play Friday

The Devils will end a six-game road trip on Friday when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena. After a 3-0-0 start to the stretch away from home, the Devils lost their last two games in regulation.

The players aren't shy about voicing themselves within the locker room on practice or game days, but Hynes wanted to make sure any one had the chance to say something after Thursday's session, and Lovejoy, one of the Devils' veterans, spoke up.

"I think it's important this time of year that the guys have a voice, too, of what they're thinking and what the mindset needs to be," Hynes said. "He's a guy that's been through a lot. He's won two Cups, he's been on Cup runs and in these situations. It's just a platform sometimes as the year goes on, you've got to lead the team and give the guys some opportunities whee maybe they don't feel comfortable on their own, but a voice to speak."

The Devils have several players, including Lovejoy, who have been part of playoff pushes and postseason runs in their careers.

They also have a locker room full of players going through it for the first time in the NHL, and those veterans are an invaluable resource.

"You can talk to them about it too, and they tell you how hard it is and how the whole season, you're waiting for this moment," forward Pavel Zacha said. "We're lucky that we're in a race like this, and it's exciting for young guys, but for them too. It's not every year that you get a chance to play these meaningful games. Having these guys with experience, you can ask them about it and know what to expect."

Chris Ryan may be reached at cryan@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRyan_NJ. Find NJ.com Devils on Facebook.