Yandles 866-game streak expected to end in Panthers season opener

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Keith Yandle‘s consecutive games played streak is expected to end at 866 on Sunday when the Florida Panthers defenseman likely will be scratched in their season opener against the Chicago Blackhawks at BB&T Center (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, TVAS, SN, FS-F, NBCSCH, NHL.TV).

“Obviously everybody wants to play, but we’ve got some tough decisions and that’s been one right now that if we have to [make it on] Sunday, he’s not going to be in the lineup,” coach Joel Quenneville said on the NHL @TheRink podcast Friday.

Yandle, who holds the longest current games played streak in the NHL, has not missed a game since March 22, 2009, when he was with the Arizona Coyotes. He has played every game for the past 11 seasons, including 69 in 2019-20 before the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

“We’re looking at a lot of young guys here coming into camp,” Quenneville said. “The opportunity for him right now is a little tight right now and tough, but things could change quickly in our business. In the course of a season like this year you never know, you might have to go 10 or 11 deep on the back end. That’s where it’s at. So it’s a situation where his spot, it’s not where he wants to be.”

Florida was scheduled to start the season with back-to-back home games against the Dallas Stars on Thursday and Friday, but those were postponed because of coronavirus issues related to the Stars.

Yandle did not skate Friday with the Panthers game group, which included defensemen Aaron Ekblad, MacKenzie Weegar, Riley Stillman, Anton Stralman, Radko Gudas and Gustav Forsling.

Defensemen Markus Nutivaara, Brady Keeper, Kevin Connauton and Noah Juulsen are also on the roster.

“Right now, we have 11 defensemen,” Quenneville said. “We picked up two guys on waivers this week. We’ve got a lot of sorting out to do. I was talking to ‘Yands’ earlier, when you look at the 11 [defensemen], you could say one through 11, how would you rate them, and I think everyone will have a different number next to them. I think a lot of decisions are close.”

The streak is the fourth-longest in NHL history behind Doug Jarvis (964), Garry Unger (914) and Steve Larmer (884).

San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau (854) has the next longest consecutive games played streak after Yandle. He has not missed a game since April 7, 2009.

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