If Cory Schneider isn’t getting traded, the Canucks had better be planning to use him

On Thursday, I discussed what Cory Schneider’s recent usage in big games didn’t mean. Now I want to investigate what it does mean. Here’s the thing: while Schneider’s starts in Boston and versus Chicago weren’t indicative that the Canucks trust him in big games more than Roberto Luongo, they were indicative that the Canucks trust him in big games, and that’s still a big deal.

In fact, if these so-called “important starts” mean anything, it’s that the team is preparing Cory to receive more of them. Don’t believe Jack “Don’t stat me your stats” Edwards — Cory’s not the official playoff starter. But he may be more than the official playoff backup.

At the beginning of the Edwards interview, Greg Wyshynski posits the theory that the Canucks are planning to go to a two-goalie system in the playoffs, and this is worth a beard stroke. Many teams have used two or three different guys on the way to a Stanley Cup, but in most cases, their hands were forced by inconsistent play from their number one. Very few enter the postseason intending to share the workload between two netminders — the Canucks certainly didn’t last year. However, I’m beginning to wonder if this is what coaching and management are planning.

I’m still not convinced Schneider will be with the team after the deadline, regardless of what Mike Gillis says. But if the Canucks are actually intending to keep him, it would be a massive waste of an asset if they weren’t also intending to use him.

Sportsnet’s Mark Spector recently argued that Gillis needs to trade Schneider before the deadline. Of course, considering Schneider just played lights out versus the Blackhawks (and considering it’s Spector, who Canucks fans love to sneer at), the article was met with the usual backlash. But he makes a very good point here:

So why short yourself by having your most valuable trade asset sitting on the bench wearing a ball cap this spring, rather than patrolling Ryan Kesler‘s wing, at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds?

We’re not saying “Trade Schneider at all costs.” We are saying, shop him hard, and if you can get what the Canucks so dearly need — a second line winger with size, experience, grit and skill — then make the trade.

In my opinion, the Canucks have other, more pressing needs beside a second-line winger, but Spector’s point remains: considering what a Schneider trade could yield for a run this year, keeping him only to sit him during such a run would be downright wasteful.

It would also be foolish. In his year and a half as the Canucks’ number two, Schneider has proven that there will be no dropoff when he gets tapped for a start. And, with his success in recent high-pressure starts, Schneider is proving that he can be dropped into big games ice cold and get piping hot in a hurry. If the Canucks are intending to get back to the Stanley Cup Final, preparing against goaltender burnout this time around is crucial.

If they have the luxury of getting Vezina-quality netminding from a second guy, why not share the load? I’d argue that’s exactly what they’re planning to do.

Tags: , , ,

39 comments

  1. sarah
    February 3, 2012

    Why is it that all backups wear a hat when they’re on the bench? Is it something the team gets them to do so that there’s more logo presence on the bench? Even Henrik Lundqvist wears a hat when he’s not starting and he doesn’t seem like a hat guy at all.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)
    • Warpstone
      February 3, 2012

      It’s cold when you’re not playing? :)

      I’d like to see backup goalies wearing toques myself.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)
      • sarah
        February 3, 2012

        Oh of course, I didn’t even think of that. Now that you mention it, toques would be more awesome.

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
        • Nee
          February 3, 2012

          Toques would be excellent.

          And I think Henrik Lundqvist would wear a fedora.

          VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
          Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)
    • stathead
      February 3, 2012

      I’ve seen one guy wearing his team’s official toque, and it was fine but did look a bit odd. He looked kind of like Eminem in that movie 8 Mile rather than a ready-for-action backup goaltender. I think it’s sort of the sport guy’s equivalent of a nice jacket: makes him feel more dressed. Also, a toque may be a bit too much when you’re in all that goalie gear.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  2. Scott McKenzie
    February 3, 2012

    Or, shop that Luongo dude.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +6 (from 8 votes)
  3. Warpstone
    February 3, 2012

    I’m an unabashed Luongo supporter. But you know what, I’m also a huge fan of Schneider. Still, the reality is that a backup goalie is a less useful playoff investment than even a bottom two defenceman or bottom 6 forward unless the starter is injured or hopeless.

    You can’t keep hedging bets. At some point, the Canucks need to address the desperate need they have for a right-handed defenceman who can step up to pair with Edler if Salo is injured. Schneider is the best trade-bait for this. I’m not saying trade him for scraps, but imagine how much less pressure is on any goalie if his blueline is solid all the way through?

    The Canucks have questions at the 5,6 spots in defence. The lack of defensive depth is the most glaring weakness they’ve had compared to last season.

    Schneider can only stop pucks if he’s in the net. If that happens, you’ve got a wasted asset in Luongo now. One way or another, you have to put your faith in your goalie for the course of the playoffs and rely on collective strength of the skaters in front of him to reduce scoring opportunities and block shots.

    Stanley Cup winning goalies don’t have good numbers on their own. They have personnel and entire systems devoted to making play in their end predictable and suited to their strengths. The Canucks have moved away from this and it’s stunning just how many breakdowns they suffer even in games they’re winning.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +15 (from 17 votes)
  4. swizzler
    February 3, 2012

    Given AV has previously played defencemen in a forward role, at 6’2” 195lb, Schneider may very well be the next one promoted to the 4th line. Or in the case of numerous injuries, such as last years playoffs, he may very well be a depth defencemen. Scouting reports say his shot blocking is exemplary

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +18 (from 18 votes)
    • Winsy
      February 3, 2012

      ha! nice one! and he couldn’t do a worse job than Alberts, that’s for sure!

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)
      • Nee
        February 3, 2012

        Nah, put Schneider on D. In his goalie gear. Now THAT would provide some excellent net front presence. ; )

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
        • Kevin
          February 3, 2012

          Too bad he isn’t a right-handed shot.

          VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
          Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  5. ChairThrower
    February 3, 2012

    Good post…..How have two or three goalie systems fared in the post season historically one has to ask? My hockey knowledge is admittedly not where it could be (gotta love University)….but it seems to have been successful when implemented (I’m thinking Detroit implemented one with some success, however I’m hazy on which season).

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  6. jackpotpunk
    February 3, 2012

    …”worth a beard stroke”.. haha. I will be stealing that. Anyway. I am also a huge supporter of Luongo, however its pretty clear the shootout is not his strongest area. Not a big deal in my mind, but it would be nice to potentially pick up a few extra points throughout the season. That said, is the coach allowed to make a goalie switch just for the shootout?

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
    • yobbei
      February 3, 2012

      I think you are allowed to but that’s pretty much AV saying to lu you suck at shootout.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  7. yobbei
    February 3, 2012

    hypothetically speaking, if some team is willing to trade to give us what we need, and willing to take EITHER Luongo or Schneider, who would you give up? why?

    I really can’t answer that question myself.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  8. J21
    February 3, 2012

    I think the Canucks do keep Schneider through the deadline, and I think they plan on being able to use him, even going so far as anticipating that it’ll happen a few times, but I’d be pretty shocked if their plan from the start was to platoon two goalkeepers in the playoffs. Seems unlike them, and too much apple-cart-upsetting potential.

    In this respect, one of the things that would have to be part of any deadline deal for Schneider is a very good backup. As in, someone who could realistically relieve Luongo should things turn sour in the playoffs. This may very well be — or in fact, is even likely to be — the former starting goalie for Schneider’s new team, which makes it difficult to pull off cap-wise. Because if the plan is to replace Schneider with Eddie Lack or a marginal NHL backup, I think it becomes too great a risk, both for injury or if Luongo struggles.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +6 (from 6 votes)
    • yobbei
      February 3, 2012

      considering MG has a track record of thinking out of the box and doing things no other GM has done, it would not surprise me one bit if they decided to have a goalie duo to play in the playoffs. Luongo would play 2 games and then schneider 1 game. Regardless of results to avoid any kind of controversies and other distraction.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
      • Harrison Mooney
        February 3, 2012

        I doubt they’ll go this strictly, just because AV, like most coaches, would probably rather to ride a hot hand. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the Canucks did try to give Schneider 2 games in a 7 game series.

        VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
        • yobbei
          February 3, 2012

          very true

          VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
          Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
        • Nee
          February 3, 2012

          It’s an intriguing idea, but I honestly don’t see it happening. I just can’t see the team management going this route. They know this market, and the media in general. Playing Cory in a few games per series would create a huge poop-storm, which would be a distraction, especially for Luongo.

          Not that it’s not a decent idea, but you just know that the media would go crazy with articles and chatter about it. And incessant questions tot the players, Lu especially. And you just don’t want to have that kind of distraction in the playoffs.

          VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
          Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
        • John in Marpole
          February 3, 2012

          The problem with that scenario is that the only way you know the series is going to 7 is that you get to game 6 and the Canucks are down 3-2 (also assumes that Vancouver will win game 6). That also means that Schneider would have to play every game 6 & game 7 . Or am I not doing the math right….?

          I’m of the opinion that Schneider will get the tap on the shoulder for game 3 or 4 of each series, to give Luongo a mid-series break. And if the series goes to game 6, and the team/Luongo need a shake-up, Schneider would see action in game 6.

          VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
          Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
        • tom selleck's moustache
          February 3, 2012

          I was thinking about them doing that for a while now, since the Finals actually. Because people were talking about using Schneider during the regular season so that Luongo wasn’t worn out by the time the playoffs started. Well, Luongo ended up starting 21 games by the time the playoffs were over, with only one given to Schneider; that’s just over quarter of a season. And given what a pressure cooker the playoffs are, it’s no wonder that Luongo was exhausted in the ended.

          So, if the point of playing Schneider is to keep Luongo rested and sharp, why wouldn’t that same line of reasoning be equally be applicable in the playoffs? You could make the argument that it’s even more so. So I’d have no problem with them giving him one or two of the road games in a round. Who cares if creates a media storm; I just want to win.

          VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
          Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
        • tom selleck's moustache
          February 3, 2012

          “I’m of the opinion that Schneider will get the tap on the shoulder for game 3 or 4 of each series, to give Luongo a mid-series break. ”

          Posted before I saw this. This was exactly what I was thinking.

          VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
          Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
          • John in Marpole
            February 3, 2012

            Totally makes sense based upon the pattern we are seeing in the regular season. Schneider isn’t being “saved” for the gimme games like regular backups, he’s being spotted in important games, and those aren’t even the back half of two in two.

            That looks to me like a coach testing his ‘big game’ game, and giving the team complete confidence in Schneider’s ability to deliver under pressure.

            I also won’t be surprised at all to see the ratio of Scneider/Luongo games change over the last bit of the season here, as a function of both keeping Schneider sharp, and giving Luongo some rest pefore the important games begin.

            VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
            Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  9. zach
    February 3, 2012

    I think the biggest issue facing the team right now is the limited cap space available even after a Schneider trade. I think it all boils down to, if Schneider is dealt, and someone else (almost inevitably) has to leave, who will it be, and in return, is losing the Schneider safety net really going to be worth the player that comes back. All this because Schneider has now proven himself a a solid and very reliable goaltender in tough games, and he has proven to the management that if the Italian flubs or gets injured, they can rely on him to carry this team deep into the playoffs. (and lets be realistic, our fragile Canuck fan hearts can’t take another first round outing anytime soon.)

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
  10. J21
    February 3, 2012

    I just realized what is going to happen, because, you know, this is the Canucks: Schneider is going to get injured before the deadline, thereby both removing the Canucks’ bargaining chip, freeing up very little LITR cap space, and possibly requiring them to waste what space they do have on yet another goalie.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +2 (from 4 votes)
    • obituary mambo
      February 3, 2012

      Hiss! *attempts to swish away any bad mojo that may have accumulated due to this flagrant negativity*

      Nothing personal; I like your insightful posts. It’s just that the above scenario is a bit too tempting to Fate. She is a fickle mistress, indeed. ~__^

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
    • Nee
      February 3, 2012

      Heh, you sure sound like a Canucks fan. Pessimism: it’s in our blood. ; )

      You’ve got to belieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeve.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  11. John Andress
    February 3, 2012

    I don’t know whether GMMG will trade Schneider at the deadline or not but what I am sure of is that if he does trade him it won’t be for a four month rental player. Any player obtained for Schneider will have to be contributing to the team for quite a few years to come. My gut feeling is that Schneider will be played a lot more often between now and April and will be with us until what I hope will not be a bitter end.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  12. tj
    February 3, 2012

    I don’t think I’ve ever been this anxious over a trade deadline. Seriously, I love ‘em all right now, and if I see Mason or Schneider go I’m going to be a very sad puppy. There are few trades that won’t make me sad. I may be okay with Weise and Ballard (sorry; dude’s not doing it for me like he used to), but them going is less likely. Damn. Now I have pre-Sad Puppy symptoms.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
  13. Jon
    February 3, 2012

    The problem here is that we have two excellent goaltenders and no one knows which one gives us a better chance to win. Understatement of the month.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  14. shoes
    February 3, 2012

    The only way MG can trade Schneider and get something important back is for the trading partner to take Ballard and Raymond. That means we have to get back a 3rd line guy, top 4 D and use Lack or Climie on the bench. And play Lou for the next 30 games and playoffs. I personally think that we would be better off dealing a salary, then signing a high priced short term rental D man and then letting Schneider or Lou take their ring at playoffs end and go to another team. Schneider will fetch us a neat package of picks because he will likely sign a contract for more than 4.7 mill/season. I think that both Luongo or Schneider, are and will be top 5 guys for years to come. I have no problem entering the playoffs with both and Spector’s opinion never quite seems to be one that favors the Canucks. I was totally surprised that he did not suggest Horcoff for Schneider and a first.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
  15. Canucks Supporter
    February 3, 2012

    Would we get enough for either Luongo or Schneider in a trade right now?

    It would take a heck of a lot to justify getting rid of either at this juncture of the season. I can only think of a handful of players that could improve a cup run. Also a trade involving Schneider might mess up team chemistry because of all the pieces that would need to be involved. Shoes is right on the money with his analysis.

    As to who we keep, I think it should come down to which of them performs better in the playoffs this year.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  16. Andrew
    February 3, 2012

    This seems to be an angle of the Schneider-Luongo debate that has been mostly ignored. Vigneault and Gillis are proving to be very innovative in their personnel decision (see the developing specialized use of Hodgson & Malhotra on offense and defense, respectively). Using two goalies in some sort of a rotation, and not necessarily “riding the hot hand”, could prove to be a decided advantage.

    Luongo and Schneider play different styles and have different tendencies. Over the course of a series, opponents are able to key on these tendencies. If the Canucks are able to switch between the two it would be harder for the opponents to devise a game plan that capitalizes on either Luongo or Schneider’s weak spots. Ideally Vigneault wouldn’t reveal his starter each game until the warm-up, though I know that’s not realistic.

    All that being said, if we could add a rugged third liner with skill and/or a right-handed top-4 d-man for Schneider I think it needs to be considered. Schneider, Raymond, Ballard & a 1st rounder for Doan, Aucoin (or Morris) & LaBarbera? Addresses all our needs and provides a solid back-up for the playoffs…

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: -1 (from 3 votes)
  17. Michael
    February 3, 2012

    Gah! All this talk of trading off Raymond for some hopeful something is getting silly. A defensive 3rd liner? Really? has anyone watched him play lately? His back-checking has become amazing to watch. No right-handed defencemen? Chris T. is being saved up and will be used. Grit? Reinprecht is waiting until he can be called up. Mancari, Duco etc.
    Things are good even though there is a slight slump going on. Think long term.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
    • Daniel W.
      February 4, 2012

      grit? Steven Reinprecht? Sorry, but that is not the answer by a long shot, he’s a scoring player that is just a bit too bad to fit in the NHL! I agree about Raymond though!

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  18. Rob
    February 3, 2012

    Just to stir the pot. and to follow the PITB trade rumour guidelines, who would the Canucks benefit more from, Bouwmeester, ( R hand shot, BIG, takes care of his own end, skates like Paul Coffey , little if any offensive upside, even if he did score a goal tonight) or Buffyglin, (R hand shot , BIG, mean, intimidating, cannon from the point, and, as we know, can stand in the crease)?

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  19. superreggie
    February 3, 2012

    I think goaltending is totally undervalued. I think star goalies should get paid more than star forwards or defensemen. They have way more impact. One goalie can take a team to the finals. It’s rare that one forward or defenseman can do that.

    Maybe the reason they aren’t, is that goalies are way more susceptible to streaks and mojo?

    The way that teams deal with a playoff run are way too conventional, and bounded by expectations and tradition. Why the hell not run with two goalies and see who gets hot? Switch them back and forth, get the competition going within the organization. It’s brilliant. Luongo seems to react well to the internal competition. Rest is probably worth a lot in the playoffs. I hope this is their strategy…

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  20. Allan
    February 4, 2012

    Major League baseball once relied on starting pitchers to go 9 innings. Why not a two goalie playoff
    approach and then trade one at the draft if you like. If both goalies play well during the playoffs then you can make a very good trade from a position of strength and due diligence.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)