ST. LOUIS — Leading into Tuesday’s game, Cory Schneider revealed he was grappling with focus issues after explosions shook his hometown of Boston to the core.
He admitted the bombings "scared the heck" out of him.
But by game time, it didn’t show. Schneider was as good as he’s been all season, turning aside 35 shots, nearly dragging his overmatched teammates to two points.
"You have to do your job, you have to get back to work, just like everyone else," Schneider said. "It’s just like everyone else, back in Boston and around the country. Things may not be the same back there, but you still have a job to do here."
He was sharp from the start, and had to be as the Canucks were out-shot 10-2 in the first 10 minutes. But when an open Chris Stewart wired a wrist shot destined for the top corner five minutes in, Schneider plucked it out of the air with his glove like he was picking an apple.
"I put it on myself to have a playoff type performance and mentality," Schneider said. "Making that big save early is always good to get you feeling good.
"You can’t pick and choose the ones you face early on and sometimes you have to make a big save."
Given the circumstances and the panic he felt for a a time on Monday, it may have been Schneider’s game of the year. But no one can be sure how much of it was Schneider’s brilliance and how much of it was the Blues' ineptness. St. Louis has now scored just six goals in six games.
The Blues sure had their chances. They had more than 20 scoring chances in the game, including a flurry at the end of the first when a Canucks line centred by Andrew Ebbett line got thoroughly whipped in one of the more brutal shifts of the season.
Schneider had to make a series of stops, none better than one of his trademark toe saves on Stewart.
Schneider was beaten once, until both Alex Steen and Andy McDonald burned him in the shootout. But the lone Blues goal hurt, mostly because it was Jay Bouwmeester, of all people, who beat him.
"I thought he might go backhand and he might try to drag it across, but he released it from out in front of him," Schneider explained. "Sometimes it’s a tough read short side. He put it just inside the post."
Schneider sat on the bench for Monday’s game, a night he struggled to stay focused after the tragic events in his hometown which had unfolded hours earlier.
"It was tough not playing to not think about it," Schneider said. "You read about it elsewhere in the world, or elsewhere in the country and you never think it’s going to happen in your hometown.
"Fortunately all of our friends and immediate friends were fine. But this is going to impact the city for a long time.
"But it puts it in perspective that the game is just a game and those other things are much more pressing."
It was actually easier for him to play, especially in a game where he was peppered with shots and fended off pile ups in front of his net.
In the second, David Perron tried a sharp-angled shot and then charged the net when he tried to pounce on the rebound. Schneider took a couple more hits in the third. On one, David Backes cut in front of the net and nicked him. Perron was in the middle of another, when he took tried to get a handle on a loose puck. In came Backes and Andrew Alberts and it was pile on the crease time again.
"It felt like playoff hockey. Guys were going to the net hard, and maybe not pulling up as much as they would other games," Schneider said. "I got jostled around pretty good on scrambles.
"That’s how it’s going to be and it’s good to get a taste for it before it actually happens."
Like most of us, Schneider has been following the news since he found out Monday. He has been heartened by the response in Boston.
"It’s a tough city," Schneider said. "People stick together and they’re resilient. They don’t get knocked down for long. You’re already hearing stories of people coming together."
© Copyright (c) The Province