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Devils' Schneider done playing but excited to watch

by Evan Sporer /

NEW YORK -- The New Jersey Devils and goaltender Cory Schneider failed to qualify for the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but that hasn't stopped Schneider from paying attention to what's going on across the NHL.

Schneider set a personal best and was fourth in the League with 69 games in 2014-15, but he's still excited to watch hockey.

"I find the first to be the most interesting round," Schneider said. "Everyone sort of has the optimism that they're going to go far and everyone comes out a million miles an hour. So some of the physicality and the pace of the game is pretty incredible, especially the early games, when you might catch a team off and win a game or two and then that changes the series.

< "I've tuned into a couple so far and I'm flipping through it to see what the scores are or who is playing well. Generally it tends to dissipate as it goes further, and maybe towards the end pick back up when it gets narrowed down a little bit."

Schneider said he's been paying attention to the Eastern Conference First Round series between the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens because of the bad blood between the teams. He said he's been watching the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators in their Western Conference First Round series; he considered them two of the best teams the Devils played this season.

"One of the fun things about this year is that every series is kind of up in the air," Schneider said. "They're all pretty evenly matched teams, and you look and you say, 'Who is going to win this one?'

"You can definitely see scenarios where either team wins it."

Schneider said he doesn't follow the play or pay specific attention to goalies when watching playoff hockey, but did highlight the accomplishments of the Senators' Andrew Hammond, who started his NHL career 20-1-2.

"It's incredible what he did down the stretch there," Schneider said. "I think any goalie in the League will tell you that it's admirable and unbelievable what he was able to do for that team. Part of me is interested to see if he can carry it over into the playoffs.

"From everything you saw, everyone was sort of waiting for him to fall off there at the end of the season, and he never did. Obviously they're down a game in the series, but he hasn't lost very much, so he doesn't really know what that's like. You expect him to bounce back and make it a great series."

Hammond is one of seven goalies to make his first Stanley Cup Playoff start. Including the Blackhawks' Scott Darling, eight goalies have seen their first playoff action this postseason.

"It's definitely different," said Schneider, who has played 10 postseason games, all with the Vancouver Canucks. "That first game in that first series especially is where everything kind of comes to a head. Once you sort of get through that and settle down a little bit I think it doesn't become easier -- it becomes harder, for sure -- but you kind of get into a bit of a rhythm and you're not thinking as much.

"A lot of the guys who played for the first time did a great job in that first game. But it's funny; every single game almost becomes a story of its own, and you have to learn to put that one behind you and move onto the next one."

Though Schneider said he has no rooting interest in the postseason, he does have some players he keeps an eye on, including fellow Boston College alumni.

"I'll probably follow the guys that I'm friendlier with closer," Schneider said. "I'm good friends with Brian Boyle, so to see him score a shorthanded goal (for the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Detroit Red Wings) I thought was pretty cool.

"At the same time, when you're playing against each other, when you're watching games, you really don't root for anybody anymore. You have your team and your teammates who you root for and the other 29 you don't like. You hate some more than others but you're pretty much indifferent towards the rest of them."


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