Why William Nylander might be out for the Maple Leafs' first game

BOSTON – The timing couldn't be worse for William Nylander, who is suffering from a rare injury.

After playing all 82 games during the regular season, the only Toronto Maple Leafs player to do so, all indications are that Nylander will miss Game 1 of their first-round series against the Boston Bruins on Saturday night due to an undisclosed issue.

The Leafs haven't officially ruled him out, but his teammates talked like they didn't expect to see Nylander on the ice at TD Garden in the opener.

“It's tough for him,” defenseman Timothy Liljegren said. “I hope it doesn't waste too much (time).”

If Nylander misses, it will be only the second game of his 653-game NHL career that he has missed 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 turnaround since Nylander just finished playing in every regular season game for the third time in his career. He wasn't dealing with the issue long-term, according to a league source, but he woke up on Thursday's scheduled day out feeling some discomfort.

Nylander sat out practice in Boston on Friday and missed the Leafs' optional morning skate on Saturday.

If he misses time, the absence is not expected to be long, according to the source.

The Leafs were cagey on details, insisting only that Nylander has “potential” to play in the opening round. The fact that he hasn't taken to the ice since his last game suggests he may not be ready to play yet.

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When asked Saturday morning what he could say about Nylander's situation in Game 1, coach Sheldon Keefe replied: “Nothing.”

Nylander has missed singles games here and there over the years, but he's never been injured, except for that one game. He missed five games during the 2020-21 season while in COVID-19 protocol and two games due to illness during the 2019-20 season. He also missed a game due to illness during the 2021-22 season.

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

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