Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Schneider, Devils' D Steady Game

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Schneider, Devils' D Steady Game

Article excerpt

EDMONTON - If Cory Schneider is playing better -- and he has of late -- part of that is a reflection of how his teammates have defended in front of him.

And vice versa.

"It all goes hand in hand, your relationship with your defensemen and the team," Schneider said. "When they know what to expect from you, it makes their lives easier. And when you know what to expect from them, it makes your life easier. I think we just had a little disconnect where maybe they didn't necessarily trust me or couldn't rely on me to make the saves I needed to make, and it was the other way around with me where it was, 'All right, are we going to give up rushes tonight?'"

Schneider made his sixth straight start on Thursday night as the Devils opened a four-game road trip against the Oilers at Rogers Place in left wing Taylor Hall's first return to the city where he played his first six NHL seasons.

Schneider allowed two or fewer goals in four of those last five starts after a stretch in which he allowed four or more goals in nine of 13 starts.

There were two noticeable differences.

First, the Devils were defending better around the crease, boxing out more effectively and not allowing as many second or third opportunities. Also, the Devils had decreased the number of odd-man rushes they were facing.

"For sure we needed to adjust," defenseman Damon Severson said. "We were getting scored on in the same places a few games in a row. Definitely we're trying to clear out the net more to let the goalies see the puck. It's good we grabbed a hold of it before it got out of control, I guess."

That last point is debatable considering the Devils brought a three-game losing streak into Thursday's game after an 0-2-1 homestand -- the Devils managed just three goals in those games despite the improved defensive effort -- and started play in seventh place in the Metropolitan Division, eight points shy of the second and final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Still, any potential turnaround has to start somewhere, and tightening the defense should allow the Devils to sneak out a few more points.

"It's almost a save a game," Schneider said. …

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