Kevin Garnett put it best when he yelled “Anything is possible!” after the 2008 Boston Celtics NBA championship game. Not many would have predicted this turn of events, however, it appears Cory Schneider is out and Keith Kinkaid is in as the New Jersey Devils starting goaltender for the remainder of this season.
2017 Schneider’s Year
Devils backup turned the starter, Keith Kinkaid started off the year struggling at times when given spot starts and short stretches of play when Schneider was battling injury. During the 2017 portion of the season, Kinkaid only played in 10 games compared to Schneider who played in 30. During this time of year, Kinkaid posted 3.10 goals against average and a .887 save percentage. Meanwhile, Schneider’s stat line showed a 2.56 goals against average and .918 save percentage. Clearly, Schneider was having the better season in 2017 even their win percentage was similar with Schneider winning 17 of his 30 games and Kinkaid only winning five of his 10. Things would drastically change when the calender turned to 2018.
2018 Kinkaid’s Year
Schneider started the 2018 campaign with an injury, after starting for the Devils on the 4th and the 7th, losing both of those games, Schneider got bit by the injury bug and fell victim to a lower-body injury after a 5-4 shootout loss to the New York Islanders. Only missing two games Schneider would return to the lineup on the 22nd but would lose to the Detroit Red Wings 3-0. His lower-body injury flared the next night in Boston after only playing two periods in a losing effort. Schneider missed the entire month of February but returned to the lineup for March playing the 1st, 4th, and 8th. Another injury flare up would force him to miss four more games.
Schneider returned to face the San Jose Sharks on the 20th but would be pulled after allowing four goals on 14 shots. No injury was confirmed by the Devils and no call-ups for another goalie would be made. If you’ve been keeping track, Schneider did not pick up a single win in nine tries in 2018. He posted a stat line of a 3.55 goals against average and .866 save percentage.
Kinkaid, on the other hand, grew much stronger when the calendar turned. Injuries and poor play by his counterpart would give him the momentum he needed to become the team’s starter down the stretch. He posted wins in 17 of his 27 games played. He also improved his stat line to a 2.37 goals against average and a .915 save percentage. Kinkaid completely turned his season around. He was huge during a two-week, six-game, road trip picking up wins in four out of six games.
Changes Not Official
It is very typical for teams to use their backup goalie very sparingly during a season. Schneider’s re-occurring lower-body injury and poor run of play gave Kinkaid enough time to take the starting role away. Nothing has been officially announced by the team, however, Kinkaid did get back-to-back starts on the 23rd and 24th playing against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins and the then Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay Lightning. This type of honour, during this time of year, is typically only reserved for a team’s starting goalie. Considering Schneider has yet to win a single game in 2018 and Kinkaid’s stellar play The Devils should, and it appears they will, be turning to Keith Kinkaid as the starting goalie for the remainder of this year.