There’s a saying that no two snowflakes are alike, but there should also be a saying that no two NHL goalies are alike. Goalies are unique and honestly you kind of have to be when other people are shooting pucks (aka frozen vulcanized rubber) in your direction at high rates of speed. Some goalies have quirky personalities (see: Ilya Brygalov, Dominik Hasek), others are easy-going, talkative guys (see: Martin Brodeur, Martin Biron), some are fiery (see: Ray Emery) and others are GQ (see: Henrik Lundqvist).
Recently the Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils played for the first time since the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals (they actually played twice in six days) and just like most of the games in the Finals the first game was close and tightly contested. One difference was the goaltenders that played for the two teams; neither was on their respective teams in 2012. The game was scoreless heading into the third period as both netminders — Ben Scrivens for the Kings & Cory Schneider for the Devils — matched each other save-for-save. Or did they?
“I never compete with the other guy,” Scrivens told The Hockey Writers after winning the game 2-0 in New Jersey, “you can’t control that stuff. I have enough stuff to deal with, without adding any pressure to myself with a made-up competition. It’s our team vs. their team, it’s not our center vs. their center, etc.; it’s a team game. Obviously I have a lot of respect for both goalies over there, but you have to play your own game.”
At the other end of the rink (or in the other locker room), Schneider had a bit of a different mindset when asked about the scoreless duel that lasted 13 minutes into the third period. “Scrivens is a good goalie who made some good saves; so for me I take it more as a personal battle with the other guy that I have to match him save-for-save and sometimes you might need a shutout to win a game,” he said. “I can’t get frustrated, I can’t look at this as something that I can be down about. You have to do your part – you have to keep your team in the game; and give them a chance. We’re working hard, it’d be one thing if we weren’t competing and we weren’t putting out an effort and getting run out of buildings; sometimes it’s tough to score goals in this league.”
“They’re an elite team, they’re a Stanley Cup contender; sometimes you’re going to play teams like that and it’s going to be a 1-0 game” – Cory Schneider on the Kings:
In the game the Devils peppered Scrivens with shots early before the Kings (playing the second of back-to-backs) found their balance and eventually the game evened out. Scrivens finished with 26 saves and Schneider stopped 19 of 20. Six days later in Los Angeles, with both goalies back in net they once again played to a scoreless tie through two periods. This time though it was Schneider who was peppered with shots as his team appeared sluggish after winning in overtime a night earlier, at one point in the second period he had made 25 saves and Scrivens only had to make five.
It was almost eerie how things were unfolding in Hollywood the opposite way they did in the Garden State. When the third period started the Devils began creating more scoring chances and eventually they lit the lamp six minutes into the period; this time though the Kings responded (the way the Devils couldn’t) with their own goal 65 seconds later. Eventually the Devils won in overtime, scoring on their 15th shot against Scrivens; Schneider saved 34 of the 35 shots he faced.
The first 90 seconds of this clip is all about Cory Schneider:
Perhaps the mindset is different for both of them because the two goalies are at different points in their careers. Both in fact were traded this summer in somewhat blockbuster deals. The Devils got Schneider from the Vancouver Canucks for the 9th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft and the Kings got Scrivens (along with Matt Frattin & a 2nd round pick) from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Jonathan Bernier.
Schneider is 27-years-old, has 108 games of NHL experience, is widely considered to be a no.1 NHL goalie and is now the heir apparent to Martin Brodeur’s crease in New Jersey. Scrivens is also 27, but has only 42 games of NHL experience, is seeing extended playing time because Jonathan Quick is sidelined for at least six weeks and was primarily a backup goalie in Toronto during the 32 games he played for them.
“You work hard and you want your effort to be recognized and shown that you’re ready, unfortunately as a backup a lot of times that doesn’t come to fruition, but if you don’t do that and a situation like this comes up — you lost an opportunity to potentially give yourself a look somewhere else or give yourself a look here,” a very candid Scrivens told THW. “There are only so many chances that you get at this level, so you have to be ready; you never know when its going to come.”
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.