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

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BOSTON – The timing could not be any worse for William Nylander to suffer a rare injury.

After playing all 82 games during the regular season, the only Toronto Maple Leafs player to do so, all signs point to Nylander missing Game 1 of a first-round series against the Boston Bruins on Saturday night with an undisclosed issue.

The Leafs have not formally ruled him out, but teammates spoke like they weren’t expecting to see Nylander on the ice at TD Garden for the opener.

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

If Nylander sits out, it would only be the second game of a 653-game NHL career that he’s missed due to injury. The first was way back in 2016 when an upper-body injury forced him out of a late November game against Washington.

This is an unexpected turn since Nylander just finished playing in every regular-season game for the third time in his career. He was not dealing with this issue down the stretch, per a league source, but woke up for a scheduled off-day Thursday in some discomfort.

Nylander sat out practice in Boston on Friday and was absent from the Leafs’ optional morning skate on Saturday.

If he misses time it’s not expected to be a lengthy absence, per the source.

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

Asked Saturday morning what he could say about Nylander’s status for Game 1, head coach Sheldon Keefe replied: “Nothing.”

Nylander has missed the odd game here and there over the years, but never, aside from that one game, to injury. He missed five games during the 2020-21 while in COVID-19 protocol and two games to illness during the 2019-20 season. He also missed a game to illness during the 2021-22 season.

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

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