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Nylander’s status for the Maple Leafs’ playoff opener against the Bruins remains unclear

BOSTON – William Nylander’s status for the Maple Leafs’ playoff opener remains unclear. The Toronto winger missed Friday’s practice and was not on the ice Saturday for his team’s morning skate ahead of Game 1 against the Boston Bruins.

BOSTON – William Nylander’s status for the Maple Leafs’ playoff opener remains unclear.

The Toronto winger missed Friday’s practice and was not on the ice Saturday for his team’s morning skate ahead of Game 1 against the Boston Bruins.

Head coach Sheldon Keefe declined to comment on Nylander’s potential availability after both on-ice sessions.

The 27-year-old scored 40 goals for the second straight season and set a career-high with 98 points, but registered just four assists in his final eleven games on the schedule.

A key member of the Leafs’ high-powered offense alongside Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and John Tavares, Nylander scored four goals and 10 points in 11 playoff games last spring as Toronto won its first series in nearly two decades.

The Swede has scored seventeen goals and forty points in fifty post-season games.

“It’s not easy to play (all) 82 games in the league,” Tavares said Saturday before Game 1. “It’s a grind and you go through a lot physically, mentally, emotionally, all that stuff.”

Toronto winger Nick Robertson appears likely to slot into the lineup if Nylander is unable to compete in the best-of-seven opener.

The 22-year-old rookie scored 14 goals and 27 points in 56 games in 2023-24.

“It’s just another game,” Robertson said. “There’s a lot more at stake, but just go out there and enjoy it.”

The 53rd pick in the 2019 draft made his NHL debut in the tightly managed postseason bubble minus fans in the summer of 2020 after the league resumed play during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was very quiet, but internally I was excited,” said Robertson, who has scored in four play-off appearances. “This is more what the playoffs are really about.

“I’m excited.”

The Leafs and Bruins meet in the first round for the fourth time in twelve years. Boston has won each series – 2013, 2018 and 2019 – in seven games.

Tavares said he has noticed growth in Robertson’s approach this season.

“You see the offense coming for him, which is great because that’s what he does so well and he has a great shot,” the Toronto captain said. “He’s becoming more and more complete and he’s a very good professional. The way he works and prepares and wants to be a difference maker every night and contribute and take advantage of every opportunity, I think he’s shown that in a big way.” .

“Excited about what he brings to our team.”

Robertson, who has dealt with a number of injuries in his young career, has managed to stay healthy this season. Keefe said this is a big reason why he has been able to take a big step in his development.

“He works to give everything he has,” Keefe said. “I’m proud of Nick and how he has carried himself throughout the season.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 20, 2024.

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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press