If all goes according to plan Tuesday — as it has for him every game day and night since March 26, 2009 — Keith Yandle will contribute plenty of minutes to his team on the blue line Tuesday.
But this time, it will take him only one second to make history.
Yandle will look to break the NHL’s record for most consecutive games played when the Philadelphia Flyers oppose the New York Islanders in a battle of Metropolitan Division rivals at Elmont, N.Y.
Yandle tied Doug Jarvis’ record Monday night, when the Flyers defenseman played in his 964th consecutive game and was on the ice for 13:39 as host Philadelphia fell 3-1 to the Dallas Stars.
The Islanders have been off since Saturday, when they lost 3-1 to the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.
Yandle hasn’t missed a game since he was scratched by the Phoenix Coyotes, his original team, on March 22, 2009. His pursuit of the longest-lasting ironman mark in the four major North American pro sports leagues has provided one of the rare bright spots for the Flyers, whose 12-game losing streak (0-9-3) is their second skid of at least 10 games this season.
Philadelphia has matched the longest winless stretch in team history, a run of eight losses and four ties in the 1998-99 season.
Jarvis has been the NHL’s ironman since he broke Garry Unger’s record of 914 games on Dec. 26, 1986. Cal Ripken Jr. has been baseball’s ironman since Sept. 6, 1995, ending with his mark at 2,632 games. A.C. Green (1,192 games) has held the NBA record since Nov. 20, 1997, and Jeff Feagles (352 games) has possessed the NFL record since Nov. 27, 2005.
“It’s an incredible accomplishment,” Flyers interim coach Mike Yeo said following the loss Monday. “You have to love the game and you have to be able to battle through sickness, injuries. A level of professionalism to come to the rink every day and be ready to go. And he’s a phenomenal teammate.”
A win by the Islanders would break their tie with the Flyers for last place in the Metropolitan Division. That would be a step in the right direction for a New York team that made the NHL semifinals each of the previous two seasons but enters Tuesday 16 points out of a playoff spot.
On the plus side for the Islanders: They have played a league-low 34 games due to multiple COVID-19 pauses.
The game against the Flyers marks the start of a 13-game stretch in which the Islanders are scheduled to play just four teams currently in playoff position.
“We match up against who we see on the schedule that night,” said left winger Zach Parise, who scored the Islanders’ lone goal Saturday. “I don’t think anyone in the room knows that record, that stat. But we’re going to be ready for our next game, most importantly.”
The clash Tuesday marks the third time the Islanders and Flyers have met in the past eight days. New York won a home-and-home set Jan. 17-18, beating Philadelphia 4-1 in Elmont before earning a 4-3 shootout victory at the Wells Fargo Center.
–Field Level Media