NHL Playoffs 2018: Devils to start Cory Schneider, bench Keith Kinkaid for Game 3 vs. Lightning
New Jersey has elected to go with the veteran Schneider in net after Kinkaid's struggles in Game 1 and 2
The New Jersey Devils are hoping to get back on track after dropping the first two games of their opening round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and they're turning to a new man in net to help them get there.
The Devils will reportedly start Cory Schneider in goal for Game 3 on Monday night in New Jersey, marking the first start of the series for the 32-year-old veteran. The news comes after Schneider replaced starter Keith Kinkaid during Saturday's Game 2, in which Kinkaid surrendered five goals on fifteen shots from the Lightning. Schneider stopped all 10 shots he faced in relief.
Schneider has shown in years past that he can perform at very high level, and that level of play is what convinced the Devils to trade a first-round draft pick to acquire him from the Vancouver Canucks in 2013, then sign him to a seven-year, $42 million extension a year later.
Schneider went six consecutive seasons (2010-2016) with a save percentage above .920 (both as a backup and starter) but has struggled mightily in New Jersey over the past few seasons. He made 40 starts in net for the Devils this season, recording a save-percentage of .907 and giving up nearly three goals per game, but lost his job to Kinkaid after suffering an injury midway through the year. Schneider hasn't won a game in net since December 27th, 2017.
Kinkaid did well to replace Schneider during the regular season, and his performance made it hard for the Devils not to ride the hot hand in net. But that hot hand has cooled pretty drastically, as Kinkaid struggled in the first few games of the series. He's given up nine goals in two games with a combined save-percentage of just .804.
Maybe the Lightning just have too much firepower offensively for the Devils to handle, regardless of who's in net. After all, Tampa Bay finished the regular season as the Eastern Conference's top team and had the most prolific offense in the league, and they're a considerable favorite in their matchup against New Jersey, who just snuck into the postseason one year removed from finishing as the East's worst team.
But the Devils have to play the hand they've been dealt, and it appears they feel that Schneider gives them the best chance to win moving forward. That means Kinkaid is no longer in the cards, or in net.
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