How perfect is it that Keith Yandle would score goal No. 100 in the game he almost didn’t play. And, considering his sitting out would have been a needless and extremely questionable decision by the Florida Panthers, it’s seemingly fitting that he figurately sticks it in the face of the coach and GM just to show even contemplating him as a healthy scratch was premature.
Some will say labeling this goal as an ‘I told you so’ moment is a bit much. Fair enough. Still, it’s hard not to feel for Yandle who is still an extremely effective offensive defenseman. He’s certainly not the only blueliner in the NHL that isn’t fantastic in his own end, but he’s the only defenseman with an 867-game iron man streak on the line. Ending that without at least giving him a chance to show he can contribute on both ends of the ice more would have been a lousy thing to do, even if trading him is the ultimate goal of the Panthers organization.
In the end, this goal doesn’t change the fact that Yandle has probably fallen out of favor with the Panthers. He might not be moveable considering his salary. But, this is a player who just last season scored 45 points in 69 games and was an even on the +/- ledger. The season before he 62 points in 82 games and in 2017-18, he had 56 points in 82 games and was actually a plus player.
He’s doing all of this in his thirties and he’s earned the contract he has. To take away a monumental streak ‘just because’ would have been a lousy thing to do.
Yandle Lives to Fight Another Day
As this is being written, the Panthers are up 5-2 over the Chicago Blackhawks and it looks like they’ll go on to win the game. It would next to impossible for the Panthers to pull Yandle after scoring, being a plus player in the game and doing so in limited minutes. He’s not hurting the team, so he should get another chance to keep his streak alive.
Yandle will need to keep producing to stay in the lineup since the Panthers may be looking for the first excuse to pull him out. If he struggles, the organization will have all the leverage they need to yank him from the lineup without much argument from fans.
The best he can at this point is keep going and keep contributing. As long as he does, he should keep the pressure on the Panthers and the puck in their end of the ice.
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