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2018-19 Season Rewind: Keith Yandle

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

2018-19 Season Rewind: Yandle

2018-19 Season Rewind: Keith Yandle

All goals from Keith Yandle in the 2018-19 season

  • 02:00 •

Keith Yandle was the steady metronome behind the Florida Panthers power play this season.

As the quarterback of the team's top unit, the veteran defenseman racked up a team-leading and franchise-record 39 points on the man advantage. That total also placed him third in the entire NHL, behind only Tampa Bay forwards Steven Stamkos (40) and Nikita Kucherov (48).

With Yandle calling the shots from the blue line, the Panthers finished with the second ranked power play in the league at 26.8 percent, which also smashed the franchise's previous record for power-play success rate of 20.4 - the only other time the team operated at over 20 percent.

"You know the way that those guys can shoot the puck and score goals, I think I have the easiest job out there," Yandle said when asked about his ability to generate offense with the extra attacker. "It's just about distributing it to those guys and letting them do their magic."

Thanks in large part to his production on the power play, Yandle went on to finish with a career-high 62 points, which also moved him ahead of Robert Svehla (57, 1995-96) for the most points by a defenseman in a season in franchise history. Of those 62 points, a career-best 53 came in the form of assists, which -- you guessed it -- set a single-season franchise record for blueliners.

For his efforts, Yandle earned a trip to the NHL All-Star Game for the third time in his career.

"It's obviously special, especially when you see the guys that have played here," Yandle said after breaking the points record. "Guys that I've looked up to like Caber [Bryan McCabe] and Jovo [Ed Jovanovski], who really helped me out in the beginning of my career. Also, Brian Campbell and Robert Svehla, who was the guy that had the record… You take pride in it."

Then, of course, there's the streak.

The NHL's active iron man, Yandle pushed his consecutive games played streak to 797 after fighting through the bumps and bruises of yet another full 82-game season. The fifth-longest such streak in league history, he sits 167 games behind Doug Jarvis' all-time record of 964.

"To play any game in the league is special," said Yandle, who hasn't missed a game since March 22, 2009. "For me, I never take it for granted. You come to the rink and enjoy every moment of it, try to get better every day. To play any games in the NHL is a true honor for me."

Looking ahead to next season, Yandle, like the rest of his teammates, is eager to get to work under new head coach Joel Quenneville. In addition to leading the Chicago Blackhawks to a trio of Stanley Cups (2010, 2013 and 2015), he also ranks second in all-time coaching wins (890).

Much like Aaron Ekblad projects that he and defensive partner Mike Matheson could be molded under Quenneville into Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook -- mainstays on Chicago's blue line for all three Cups -- Yandle's role next season could be likened to Brian Campbell, who was the veteran offensive-defenseman on the Blackhawks' franchise-altering championship in 2010.

"I think it's unreal," Yandle said of the hiring. "A chance to get a Hall-of-Fame coach, a guy that has won Stanley Cups and knows how to win. I've heard from guys that played for him in Chicago, they loved him. It's definitely an exciting day here."

At 32, Yandle hopes this is the last summer he's spending outside of the playoff picture.

"I would trade in having a no-point season to be playing next week [in the playoffs]," he said after cleaning out his locker at BB&T Center on April 8. "It's kind of one of those things where you are happy you had a good season, but also not happy because we aren't playing next week."

COOL STAT

A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Yandle's season was one of the best ever by an American.

By posting 62 points, he became just the 14th U.S.-born defenseman to ever reach the 60-point mark in a season. Additionally, Yandle's 528 career points currently rank him second behind only Minnesota Wild rearguard Ryan Suter for the most points among active U.S.-born NHL blueliners.

BEST GAME

Oddly enough, Yandle's best performance of this season didn't come on North American soil.

In the second game of an overseas doubleheader at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland, Yandle registered a goal and an assist to earn first-star honors and help lead the Florida Panthers to a big 4-2 over the Winnipeg Jets on Nov. 2, salvaging a two-game split in a heated Global Series.

Tied 2-2 in the fleeting seconds of the middle frame, Yandle rocketed a one-timer through traffic that somehow managed to traverse through a heap of bodies and end up in the back of the net to make it a 3-2 game at 19:34 of the second period - the night's eventual game-winning goal. 

Video: FLA@WPG: Yandle blasts Panthers' third PPG for lead

"It was amazing," Yandle said of the trip to Finland. "It's one of those things I'll never forget. The fans we're unbelievable. Meeting people in the streets, talking to people, it was just an amazing time. How friendly everybody is, it shouldn't surprise anyone. Any Finnish guy I've played with was an amazing guy. It was definitely a lot of fun."

GOAL OF THE YEAR

While Yandle prefers to do the majority of his damage from the blue line, he proved that he can also jump up in the rush when needed with this goal against the Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 20.

Approaching the midway point of a scoreless first period, Yandle raced down the ice on a 2-on-2 break with teammate Evgenii Dadonov. After taking a pass from the Russian winger, he lasered a bar-down wrist shot into the cage to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead at 7:34 of the opening frame.

The goal was Yandle's first of nine he'd score on the season.

Video: DET@FLA: Yandle rifles shot by Howard

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