TAMPA — It appears the Florida Panthers will scratch veteran defenseman Keith Yandle for Game 3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night as he was part of the scratched group getting work at Amalie Arena.
Coach Joel Quenneville said there could be changes to the Game 3 lineup aside from Sam Bennett returning from his one-game suspension. He did not go into specifics.
It is sometimes hard to tell in an optional skate who is in the lineup — but based on who stays after to work with assistant coaches Derek MacKenzie and Robb Tallas, it’s not hard to figure out who is not going to play.
Yandle was working with scratch players Kevin Connauton, Juho Lammikko, Aleksi Heponiemi, Nikita Gusev and goalie Spencer Knight.
Because it is a postseason game, Yandle’s Ironman streak of consecutive games played will not be affected.
Yandle played his his 923rd consecutive game (the longest active streak in the NHL and second all-time) in Florida’s regular-season finale against the Lightning. He also played in the first two games of this series.
He has not missed a game since 2009 when he was playing for the Phoenix Coyotes.
Since making his NHL playoff debut with the Coyotes in 2010, Yandle has played in all 57 games either with the Coyotes, Rangers or Panthers including last year’s four-game stay in the Toronto bubble.
Yandle appeared to be in good spirits during the workout and celebrated MacKenzie’s goal against Knight during a drill.
Due to Covid-19 protocols which remain in place, locker rooms are closed to the media so Yandle did not speak after practice.
“I know I can help the team and all the guys know that too,’’ Yandle told FHN in January when it appeared he would start the regular season as a healthy scratch. Florida relented on the eve of the season-opener against the Blackhawks and he played in all 56 games.
“I will be taking pride in being a good teammate and being there for the guys. The guys are here for me now which is a good sign. … I love playing here and love the guys. I love our group, the coaches, everyone. My family is invested down here. I signed here expecting to play the rest of my career here.”
The Panthers will have Chris Driedger in net for the second consecutive game. He took the loss in the playoff debut in Game 2 but Quenneville said he played well as he gave up two goals off 28 shots — one of which came off of Stralman.
Sergei Bobrovsky gave up five goals on 40 shots in the opener.
”I thought he played well. Bob had some discussion as well,’’ Quenneville said. “I think the move is an opportunity. We didn’t give him much run support the last game. In front of him, he didn’t get the same workload Bob did and it wasn’t an easy decision to say the least.’’
PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS, ROUND 1
GAME 3: PANTHERS AT LIGHTNING
TAMPA BAY LEADS BEST-OF-7 SERIES 2-0
- When: Thursday, 6:30 p.m.
- Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa
- Tickets: AVAILABLE HERE
- Regular season series: Florida won 5-2-1
- The series so far — Sunday Game 1: Tampa Bay 5, Florida 4; Tuesday Game 2: Tampa Bay 3, Florida 1
- TV: USA Network, BS-FLA
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM