Why William Nylander may be out of Game 1 for the Maple Leafs

BOSTON – The timing couldn’t be worse for William Nylander to suffer a rare injury.

After playing in all 82 games of the regular season, and being the only Toronto Maple Leafs player to do so, all indications are that Nylander missed the first game of a first-round series against the Boston Bruins on Saturday evening due to an undisclosed issue.

The Leafs haven’t formally ruled him out, but his teammates spoke as if they didn’t expect to see Nylander on the ice at TD Garden for the opener.

“It’s tough for him,” defenseman Timothy Liljegren said. “I hope he doesn’t miss too much (time).”

If Nylander doesn’t play, it would be just the second game in a 653-game NHL career that he misses due to injury. The first was in 2016, when an upper-body injury forced him out of a late November game against Washington.

This is an unexpected turn since Nylander has just completed every regular season game for the third time in his career. He hasn’t faced that issue all along, according to a league source, but woke up Thursday for a scheduled day off with some discomfort.

Nylander did not attend practice in Boston on Friday and was absent from the Leafs’ optional morning skate on Saturday.

If he misses time, a prolonged absence is not expected, according to the source.

The Leafs were cautious with details, insisting only that Nylander was a “possibility” to play in the first round. The fact that he hasn’t been on the ice since his last game suggests he may not be ready to play yet.

When asked Saturday morning what he could say about Nylander’s status for Game 1, head coach Sheldon Keefe responded, “Nothing.”

Nylander has missed a few games here and there over the years, but never, outside of this game, due to injury. He missed five games during the 2020-21 season while under the COVID-19 protocol and two games due to illness during the 2019-20 season. He also missed one game due to illness during the 2021-22 season.

(Top photo: Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

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