“It’s his first game so it’s really exciting and he’s doing an amazing job out there,” praised Jannik Hansen
“He’s looked great; he’s steady, he’s been great technically and when the pucks are hitting him, that means he’s doing a good job,” gushed Roberto Luongo
“He played great, he kept us in there all night and I’m sure he’s happy with his performance,” exclaimed Kyle Wellwood.
Following Vancouver’s 3-1 loss to the Calgary Flames Saturday night at the Pengrowth Saddledome, Schneider was the talk of the team after an inspired 28 save performance in his big league debut.
Acclaim and applause came from both locker rooms as even a few Flames admitted the 22-year-old played better than they anticipated, yet it was bittersweet for Schneider as he failed to backstop the Canucks to a win in an always important Northwest Division battle.
“I had a lot of fun out there, it was really exciting and I think I answered a few questions about myself,” said Schneider.
“At the same time, we didn’t get the points we needed and Calgary’s kind of closing in on us. It was a very big game and we didn’t get the win.”
Schneider, the game’s third star, certainly wasn’t the reason for Vancouver’s second consecutive loss. That blame can be placed squarely on an offence that tested Miikka Kiprusoff only 18 times throughout the game and just three times in the second period.
Still, Schneider took his share of the responsibility, especially for the second goal of the game, David Moss’ game-winner.
Early in the third period, Curtis Glencross hit Moss with a pass at the Calgary blueline, Moss skated hard into the Vancouver zone streaking down the left side on Alex Edler. As Edler went down to block the shot, Moss snapped a swift wrister low and in off the right post.
Schneider wasn’t quick enough getting down into his butterfly stance and the puck squeaked under his left pad.
“I kind of anticipated him getting it up a little bit, but he just put it hard back to my trail leg and I wasn’t able to get it down in time,” said Schneider.
“Obviously that’s one you need to have back, especially when it puts you down a goal in the third period, so I think that was a back-breaker for our team.”
It was the only blemish on what was an otherwise outstanding effort by the rookie. Schneider only found out he was starting the game during Vancouver’s Saturday morning skate, so there could have easily been a few more bumps in the road.
Schneider was prepared, poised and professional; he looked nothing like a wobbly-kneed freshman should.
“I was a little nervous, I had a little knot in my stomach all day, but when it comes down to it, it’s just hockey, it’s the game you’ve played your whole life and try not to change what you’ve done.
“It’s the most fun I’ve had playing hockey, I just wish we would have gotten the win.”
He was rewarded with his first NHL win, but Schneider did answer a lot of questions about if he’s ready to play at this elite level.
He is and the confidence he gained from discovering that will go a long way in his next start.
“You just never know, you never know what it’s going to be like, how you’re going to respond, how you’re going to react to the situations, but I found that if I keep playing my game and don’t change what got me here, then I can have some success.
“Obviously it’s still a learning process and I’m hoping to get better every time I play.”
Coach Alain Vigneault was more than impressed with Schneider’s game; he was much less fond of Vancouver’s offensive play against the Flames, especially on special teams.
The Canucks played a soft road game and once again failed to match the intensity of the Flames, who now sit only one point behind Vancouver for first in the division.
“Give Calgary a lot of credit, I thought they played real hard in the second and the third and their execution was just better than ours and that’s why they won,” evaluated Vigneault.
“It’s very competitive conference, competitive division, there’s not a lot separating a lot of teams and sometimes you get on a roll because of great goaltending, specialty teams, some guys finding their touch.
“Right now our specialty teams are in neutral and we’ve got to find a way to get them back going.”
Vancouver was 0-for-3 on the power play and is 3-for-24 with the man advantage in its last seven games.
A stalled offensive attack and a bunk power play stopped Schneider from coming away a winner in his NHL debut.
With the way Schneider performed against Calgary, he’ll likely get his second start real soon. Kyle Wellwood is confidence Vancouver’s offence and power play will be around to see it.
“We’re going to make sure we win the next one for him.”