What do you make of the New Jersey Devils waiving Cory Schneider? Do you think the statement made by this move will serve as a wakeup call to the other underperforming vets and hopefully serve as the turning point needed to salvage the season? -- @Rob_Oswald
I wouldn't read that deep into the Devils' decision to waive Schneider on Monday and subsequently send the goalie to Binghamton of the American Hockey League on Tuesday after he cleared. This was a decision based solely on Schneider and his play. It's not a statement or message to the rest of the Devils. It's about a goalie who hasn't played well and wasn't going to play much in the coming weeks. Schneider is 0-4-1 with a 4.59 goals-against average and .852 save percentage in six starts. Mackenzie Blackwood is their No. 1 and Louis Domingue, who was recalled from Binghamton on Monday, is better suited to be a backup because Schneider needs starts in the AHL to see if he can get his game back in order.
Going to Binghamton doesn't signal the end for Schneider in New Jersey or the NHL. The Devils have a lot invested in him with a contract that runs through the 2021-22 season. They're sending him to the AHL hoping he can rediscover his game and be a viable NHL goalie for the remainder of his contract. The two-week conditioning assignment he had in Binghamton last season worked; Schneider was 6-8-3 with a .921 save percentage and a 2.46 GAA in 17 appearances, including 16 starts, from Feb. 7 to the end of the season. He was 0-5-1 with a 4.66 GAA and .852 save percentage in his first nine appearances, including seven starts. If Schneider can get his confidence back in Binghamton, he could return to New Jersey and be a strong asset for the Devils in the second half.
Video: Cory Schneider placed on waivers by the Devils.
What teams are the most well-rounded in your eyes? -- @SJS883
The four that immediately come to mind are the Washington Capitals, New York Islanders, Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues.
The Blues are the most well rounded of them all because they have a strict identity as a north-south, hard forechecking, aggressive team. They have the deepest group of defensemen in the NHL with Alex Pietrangelo, Colton Parayko, Jay Bouwmeester, Vince Dunn, Justin Faulk, Carl Gunnarsson and Robert Bortuzzo. Goalie Jordan Binnington is proving last season wasn't a fluke; he is 10-3-4 with a .920 save percentage and 2.32,goals-against average in 17 games. Thanks to their depth, the Blues are built to make up for the loss of forward Vladimir Tarasenko, who is out at least five months because of shoulder surgery. The Blues are one of two NHL teams to have at least five players with 17 or more points (Washington has six with 18 or more points). Tarasenko is not one of them. It's difficult to get them off their game and even harder to beat them at their game.
The Capitals, who lead the NHL with 36 points (16-3-4), are top 10 in power play (24.3 percent, fifth) and penalty kill (85.2 percent; seventh) percentage. Their goals against per game (2.96), a problem earlier in the season, has come down dramatically this month. They finished October allowing 3.29 goals per game. They're allowing 2.44 goals per game in nine games this month. The Capitals are getting goals from everyone, including 64 points (33 goals, 31 assists) from their top line of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson. Their second line of Jakub Vrana, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie has 51 points (24 goals, 27 assists). They have also gotten 30 points (10 goals, 20 assists) from their bottom two lines. John Carlson is the Norris Trophy favorite at the quarter mark of the season with 35 points (eight goals, 27 assists) to lead all NHL defensemen.
The Capitals are the only team in the League with six players who have at least 18 points.
The Islanders don't have a wow factor, but they are again one of the best defensive teams in the NHL, allowing 2.42 goals per game. They are also No. 12 in scoring, averaging 3.21 goals per game. The Islanders have allowed a League-low 12 goals in the second period.
The argument against the Bruins being a well-rounded team is that they get so much from their top line of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. The three have combined for 88 points (40 goals, 48 assists), but the success of that line allows the other forwards to play their roles well, without the intense pressure to be front-line scoring threats too. Boston is one of four teams in the NHL in the top 10 in goals-for per game and goals-against per game. The others are the Pittsburgh Penguins, Colorado Avalanche and Carolina Hurricanes. The Bruins are the only team in the League scoring more than a full goal per game more than they allow (3.57-2.38).
Video: ARI@STL: Parayko snipes puck by Kuemper on the rush
Obviously you can't account for unforeseen circumstances, but if I'm in my mid-30s and relatively healthy, what are the odds the Buffalo Sabres make the Stanley Cup Playoffs before I die? -- @Debers16
I'm no medical expert and I haven't seen your medical charts, but I'd like to think your odds are in your favor.
I certainly sense and understand the sarcasm in your question considering the Sabres have the longest playoff drought in the League at eight seaons, but I feel the Sabres fans' faith will be rewarded soon. I think the Sabres can be a legit playoff contender this season, but they need to string together some wins. Their 9-2-2 record in October start gave them some room for a lull this month (1-6-1 in November), but without another strong stretch of hockey coming, my faith in them will waver. I said in October that the true measure of the Sabres will be how they handle a bad stretch, which is the measure of an improving team. They're in the danger zone now. They play at the Boston Bruins on Thursday and then play six games in nine days (Nov. 24-Dec. 2). One problem is they're dealing with injuries to five forwards: Kyle Okposo (concussion), Marcus Johansson (upper body), Johan Larsson (upper body), Vladimir Sobotka (lower body) and Tage Thompson (upper body). It's a depth issue for a team that had depth questions coming into the season. That's never good.
In the bigger picture, though, the Sabres appear to be going in the right direction. Center Jack Eichel is taking over games, and his leadership and maturity is becoming apparent. Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin may have struggled a bit lately in his second season, but that's merely a blip on what has so far been a promising start to what should be a terrific career. Forwards Sam Reinhart, Jeff Skinner and Victor Olofsson all are making sustainable contributions. With coach Ralph Krueger the Sabres look to be creating the culture of accountability and chemistry needed to create a winning environment.
Video: OTT@BUF: Eichel completes hat trick
At the beginning of the season you said New York Rangers' fans should expect the playoffs but not be disappointed when it didn't happen. Where do you stand on that assertion a quarter of the way through based on New York's performance? -- @KafkaesquePuppy
My opinion hasn't changed. Expectations for the Rangers this season should be higher than they were last season. They need to be higher. Fans should expect more with forwards Artemi Panarin and Kaapo Kakko, and defensemen Jacob Trouba and Adam Fox now a part of it. Fox, by the way, looks like the real deal. His vision and skating are high-end NHL level and he's willing to compete, which answers a big question the Rangers had of him. But fans also need to expect growing pains, tough losses, and decisions from coach David Quinn that are based on development as much as they are based on winning now. That's what happened with 21-year-old center Lias Andersson, who wasn't playing a lot and was recently sent to Hartford of the AHL. Inconsistency is to be expected from young players, but opportunity is still to be earned, not given.
Not surprisingly, the Rangers have shown their potential and their warts. They can beat any team in the League when they play a simple, hard, structured, disciplined game. That happened in recent wins against the Tampa Bay Lightning (4-1), Nashville Predators (2-1), Carolina Hurricanes (4-2) and Penguins (3-2 in overtime). When they let it slip, they too easily lose their grip and struggle to get it back. That happened recently in losses against the Bruins (7-4), Ottawa Senators (6-2), and Lightning (9-3). It's certainly a problem that they haven't had their No. 1 center, Mika Zibanejad, for the past nine games because of an upper-body injury, but the Rangers are 8-8-2 and showing signs of improvement too, even if they're not consistent.
Video: PIT@NYR: Kakko scores in OT
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