Schneider 'fine' backing up Bobby Lu
Derek Van Diest, QMI Agency
|Cory Schneider makes a save against the Ducks during a game in Anaheim on Dec. 29.
Cory Schneider believes he has what it takes to be a starting NHL goaltender.
But as long as he plays behind Roberto Luongo in Vancouver, the Canucks puck-stopper will always be second banana and spend more time on the bench then in the crease.
Especially considering the way Luongo has been playing of late.
“It’s not something I ever think about,” Schneider said, prior to getting the call Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers. “My role on this team is what it is. All I can do is control the opportunities I do get and not worry about the ones I’m not getting.
“If we were losing a lot and if it seemed more unfair than it is, then maybe it would be a little more frustrating, but Roberto has been one of the best goalies in hockey over the last three months. For me, it’s just been fun to watch him and watch the team win.”
Heading into Sunday’s contest, Schneider had played in 21 games this season, compiling a 12-5 record with a 2.26 goals against average and a .928 save percentage.
His numbers are actually better than Luongo’s, who has a 2.30 goals against average and .922 save percentage in 41 games this year.
Regardless, Schneider knows his role is to caddy for Luongo, who is not going anywhere soon with 11 years left on a 12-year, $64-million contract extension.
“There’s not a whole lot to be upset or complain about, I’m fine with the role I’m doing now,” Schneider said. “I take it seriously, it’s not as though I think less of myself because I don’t play as much. I’m just staying patient and focusing on what I have to do.
“For me it is all about wins. The other numbers are nice, but it’s not what I’m too worried about. As a guy that doesn’t play too often, I want to win, I want to be able to help my team out and not be the guy that throws us off the track. It would be tough to not play as much if I was losing all the time. Winning is my priority and that’s what I really pride myself in.”
Sunday’s start was just Schneider’s third in the Canucks’ last 14 games. Earlier this season, he got on a roll taking over for an injured Luongo and going on to win five consecutive games.
“That was good, it was good to know that you will get back in there, you get into a rhythm and you don’t think about it as much,” Schneider said. “When you have some time between starts, you tend to over-think things or they don’t come as naturally as if you’ve been playing a lot.”
Selected by the Canucks in the first round — 26th overall — of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, the Marblehead, Mass., native was supposed to be the team’s goaltender of the future.
But due to the length of Luongo’s contract extension, Schneider could grow old waiting on that future.
That’s one of the reasons his name has come up in recent trade speculation, with a number of teams around the league in the market for a quality starting goaltender.
“It’s all speculation and rumours and it’s easy to do,” Schneider said. “It’s easy to pick names and say ‘This makes sense.’ I haven’t heard anything from the team in that regard and I don’t expect to.
“Until (Canucks GM) Mike Gillis comes and tells me I’m not going to be a part of the team anymore, I’m going to go about my business and be a good teammate and work as hard as I can for this team.”