‘Devils in the Details’
By Sean Hartnett
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Cory Schneider’s competitive start to his Devils career couldn’t have gone more swimmingly.
The former Vancouver Canuck immediately endeared himself to Devils fans during Monday night’s 2-1 preseason win over the rival New York Rangers. Schneider made a number of flashy saves that drew booming chants of “Cor-y, Cor-y” from the Prudential Center crowd.
His most notable thievery came against Brad Richards on an early second-period Rangers power play. Richards alertly followed the loose puck and unleashed a quick shot. Schneider was up to the task, making a sprawling paddle save to deny Richards.
It was a common theme throughout the contest. Schneider kept frustrating Richards again and again. The Rangers centerman unleashed a hard slap shot from the left circle at 7:28 in second period.
“I saw that play developing, where I thought he was going to drop it to Richards there,” Schneider said. “It was kind of deceptively a hard and quick shot. I was able to get good vision, and found it pretty quickly. Sometimes, your glove is just in the right spot — and it happens to go in there.”
The crowd of 11,906 were left captivated by Schneider’s artistry in net. Devils fans could be forgiven for mistaking 27-year-old Schneider for a young Martin Brodeur. Schneider’s performance on Monday night might be a sampling of the present and the future as he could conceivably steal away the majority of Brodeur’s workload.
When it was all said and done, Schneider had posted two scoreless periods of play — stopping all 22 shots before 24-year-old Keith Kinkaid relieved him at the start of the third period. Kinkaid saved 11 of 12 shots, allowing a goal to Rangers center Dominic Moore at 4:59 minutes into the final period.
Devils head coach Pete DeBoer wasn’t getting carried away with effusive for his new netminder.
While Kinkaid was solid, the night belonged to Schneider. The native of suburban Massachusetts, who were grew up attending Bruins games at TD Garden was taken aback by the atmosphere at Prudential Center.
“It is preseason, but that was probably one of the most spirited preseason games I’ve ever seen,” Schneider said.
As the victorious Devils left the ice, the home fans showered Schneider with a loud ovation and continuous “Cor-y, Cor-y” chants.
“That was incredible,” Schneider said. “I’ve heard a lot about the fans here and how passionate and how supportive they are. It was just the first preseason game. Hopefully, we’ll get a lot more of that support.”
Schneider joked about the pressure of having to repeat this kind of performance again.
“I’ll just have to post a shutout every time to get that kind of reception,” he said.
The man who wears No. 35 in honor of former All-Star Rangers goalie Mike Richter enjoyed his first involvement in the Devils-Rangers rivalry.
“I haven’t seen some of these guys out East that I’ve played with very often, so it will be fun to play against these guys and, hopefully, beat them a lot,” Schneider said. “I guess this is the team to beat in Jersey, so it was fun to beat the Rangers.”
Schneider is already savoring “The Hudson River Rivalry.” He’s looking forward to competing against the Rangers in spirited battles once the regular season gets underway.
“It will be fun to play against these guys and hopefully beat them a lot,” Schneider said. “I guess this is the team to beat in Jersey, so it was fun to beat the Rangers.”
Often, the mark of a truly great goaltender is a meticulous self-criticism. Schneider feels that there are plenty of small details he can work on despite his promising preseason debut.
“(There were) a couple sloppy rebounds that I could’ve cleaned up and a few turnovers of the puck that I wasn’t happy with,” he said. “For the first time out, you’re kinda just making sure that you have your base down and that you feel good about your fundamentals.”
GOAL-SCORERS TEDENBY AND GELINAS LOOKING TO EARN ROSTER SPOTS
Swedish winger Mattias Tedenby got the Devils off the mark by scoring the game’s opening goal at 10:20 into the first period.
Tedenby capitalized on a skillful backhanded pass by winger Rosislav Olesz, beating all-world goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. The 23-year-old called it “a big thing” to score against his celebrated countryman.
Having only played four games for New Jersey last season, Tedenby is seeking to make good on his potential and lock down a spot on DeBoer’s roster.
“Of course, it’s good to start off with a goal and a win,” Tedenby said. “It’s good for the confidence and good for me personally, too.”
DeBoer was particularly pleased with Tedenby’s overall performance against the Rangers.
“I thought Teddy had a very good game tonight,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. “With him it’s one game at a time. Like with all the guys that are fighting for those roster spots, you play a good game, it gets you an opportunity to play another one.”
22-year-old defenseman Eric Gelinas has a shot that packs a punch. He rifled a shot past Rangers’ backup Cam Talbot moments after the Devils’ power play expired 31 seconds into the second period.
Gelinas only has one career NHL game under his belt. Like Tedenby, he is seeking to land a spot on the Devils’ roster. DeBoer tried out Gelinas in power play situations on Monday night.
The 6-foot-4 defenseman has gained a reputation for unleashing heavy shots. He scored six goals and 22 points in 57 games for minor-league Albany of the AHL last season.
DeBoer credited Gelinas for making use of best tools.
“That’s what he does,” DeBoer said. “You use the adage of the players, ‘Do what you do best out there’ and I thought Gelly did what he did best out there tonight. He created offense with his shot, he was solid defensively and he was dangerous on the offensive blue line.”
BRUNNER JOINS DEVILS ON TRYOUT CONTRACT
Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello confirmed before Monday’s game that former Detroit Red Wings forward Damien Brunner was signed by the club to a professional tryout contract.
The versatile forward was long-rumored to join the Devils throughout the summer. He will practice with the Devils for the first time on Tuesday.
“I’m excited to see him,” DeBoer said. “I guess he’s going to practice with us tomorrow. I don’t know a lot about him. He was a name that came up over the summer in my conversations with Lou and I think it’s great that we’re going to get a chance to get a look at him.”
Brunner scored 12 goals and tallied 26 points in 44 games for the Red Wings last season.
“The book on him is he’d very skilled,” DeBoer said. “He’s put up points at every level he’s played at and you can always use some of that.”
The 27-year-old Swiss forward’s arrival will further increase the stiff competition for places as the Devils’ 2013-14 regular season opener nears. New Jersey begins their 2013-14 campaign on the road in Pittsburgh on October 3.
Follow Sean on Twitter @HartnettHockey.
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