Florida Panthers

Keith Yandle’s ‘Iron Man’ streak rolls on Thursday against Penguins

Florida defenseman Keith Yandle stretches before playing the San Jose Sharks in Sunrise on Nov. 10.
Florida defenseman Keith Yandle stretches before playing the San Jose Sharks in Sunrise on Nov. 10. AP

The night Keith Yandle busted his foot blocking a shot in Boston, coach Tom Rowe said he would be out “a while.”

Yandle didn’t miss a game.

The following day, Yandle took treatment on his foot throughout the day and was in uniform "testing out" the injured foot in warmups before the Panthers took on the host Philadelphia Flyers.

The verdict: Yandle was in the starting lineup.

“He had me to carry him,” linemate Jason Demers said with a grin, “so it had to be an easy decision for him to make. He just had to stand there, I would do the rest.”

By playing against the Flyers – and he played almost 24 minutes in the overtime loss, second only in the game to Vincent Trocheck – Yandle continued his NHL ‘IronMan’ streak to 578 games.

On Thursday, Yandle’s streak moved on as he was back in the lineup despite taking Florida’s morning workout off.

The last time Yandle missed a game was in 2009 while playing for the Phoenix (now Arizona) Coyotes.

For quick reference, President Barack Obama had only been in the White House a few months; teammate Aaron Ekblad was just 13.

“He really is an ‘Iron Man’,” said Mike Matheson, who was 15 at the time Yandle didn’t play in an NHL game on April 22, 2009.

“It’s really incredible that this is basically his entire career. It’s impressive the way he takes care of his body and as a young guy, that’s something I’m trying to look at and learn from.

“I would love to look back at 570 games and say I didn’t miss any. It shows how hard he works during the summer and season to do this.”

Rowe said he wasn’t shocked when Yandle came to him Tuesday and said he was ready to go despite being hurt less than 24 hours prior.

“I wasn’t surprised at all, he’s a tough guy,” Rowe said.

“He has that streak intact for a reason. He may not be the physical guy when it comes to play, but he’s definitely mentally tough to be able to do what he did in Philadelphia. He played a great game and I didn’t think he would be in the lineup at all.”

Yandle’s streak is quite impressive and ranks 10th on the NHL’s all-time list and second among active players as Anaheim’s Andrew Cogliano is sixth all-time at 724 games played consecutively.

Both are trying to track down Doug Jarvis, the current Vancouver Canucks assistant coach who played in 964 consecutive games in his career.

Former Florida defenseman Jay Bouwmeester saw his streak of 737 consecutive games end in 2014.

Brian Campbell left Florida having not missed a game since 2011 that run has continued in Chicago as he has now played in 410 consecutive games.

“It says this streak he has is important, it’s one hell of an accomplishment,” Demers said.

“It’s a testament to his mentality of wanting to be out there all the time, wanting to contribute. It’s talks to his character, his will to win. It’s fun to play with a guy like that.”

▪ Rowe said Jonathan Marchessault will miss the next couple of games as he continues to recover from what is believed to be a groin injury.

Marchessault has missed the past two games and the free agent signee from Tampa Bay leads team in scoring with 10 goals and 19 points.

“It’s a lower-body, not anything serious just another three or five days and he’ll be back in,” Rowe said. “He’s been playing through it and I said ‘listen, take care of it so when you get back in, you stay back in’.’’

▪ Thursday’s game is Rowe’s first home game behind the Florida bench. He replaced Gerard Gallant after he was fired following a 3-2 loss in Carolina to kick off a six-game road trip.

The Panthers went 1-1-3 the rest of the way.

“It’s really neat,” Rowe said. “We have great fans and the building is going to be jumping. Our guys are excited to get home.”

▪ Shawn Thornton was scratched Thursday with Seth Griffith going back into the lineup.

Roberto Luongo got the start against the Penguins.

▪ The Panthers will hold a Toys for Tots toy drive with fans asked to bring new and unwrapped toys to Saturday’s game against Vancouver.

A toy gets a free taco from Tijuana Flats.

Thursday: Penguins at Panthers

When/where: 7:30 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise.

TV/radio: FSFL; WQAM 560, WMEN 640, WMYM 990.

Series: Pittsburgh leads 46-36-4.

Scouting report: Pittsburgh heads to Sunrise winners of its past three and four of five as the Pens are second in the league by averaging 3.3 goals per night. Evgeni Malkin in third in the league with 28 points with captain Sidney Crosby fourth with 27. The Panthers haven’t won a game in regulation since beating the host Senators on Nov. 19 and have lost six of the past eight (2-3-3).

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