With a chance to get to just one point from a wild card berth, the New Jersey Devils turned to a very rusty Keith Kinkaid on Sunday.
The last time Keith Kinkaid was in net prior to Sunday’s loss to the New York Islanders was January 26 against the Capitals. It was retro night in Newark as the Devils wore their old jerseys. That was almost a month ago. It was too long of a break in between starts and it showed on Sunday as rust took hold.
There’s no question that Cory Schneider is the starter in New Jersey. Schneider is the better goalie and, therefore, gets to play more games. He started the previous eight games, in which he went five and three with a 2.25 goals against average and a .933 save percentage. He deserved a night off as to not burn him out, and just showcased a 40 save performance against the same Islanders the day before (Saturday).
However, there were chances for Kinkaid to get the nod in net. He already held victories over Buffalo and Calgary, the latter of which defeated the Schneider lead Devils. The bottom line is Kinkaid has too long of a rest and it cost the Devils two points that went to a team they are chasing.
Backup goalies are backups for a reason. They are there to play when the starting goalie needs a break. Backups in New Jersey are used to not playing much. When Martin Brodeur was in net, on seven different occasions, did backups have to play less that 10 games. That said, Cory Schneider is no Martin Brodeur and goalies like Kinkaid will get their chances to play. That said, they should play at least twice a month in order to keep themselves fresh, but to give Schneider the proper amount of games to play.
Kinkaid himself even admitted that he wasn’t prepared for the game. This was also a game where the Devils offense game alive. A wasted four-goal performance is something that team can not allow to happen. They have only been able to do that 11 times this season out of 59 games played.
The first period certainly seemed like status quo. The Devils and Islanders were tied at one at the end of the first and Kinkaid committed absolute larceny on Josh Bailey to keep the game tied. Then the second period happened. An incredibly sloppy looking wrap around goal by Casey Cizikas, which was assisted by former Devils Stephen Gionta, started a downward spiral, which should have been Kinkaid’s night.
There aren’t many chances for Kinkaid to play in this season, especially after what happened against the Islanders. It’s safe to say that Schneider will finish out the month of February — perhaps a start against lowly Colorado or Arizona. Kinkaid also already has a win this year against Carolina, who the Devils see one more time.
Either way, the Devils shouldn’t wait too long.