William Nylander’s Injury Getting Into Bizarre Territory

William Nylander #88 of the Toronto Maple Leafs

Getty William Nylander #88 of the Toronto Maple Leafs

The only thing we know about Toronto Maple Leafs winger William Nylander entering Game 2 of the first-round series against the Boston Bruins is that he was back skating at a practice on Sunday, April 21.

Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe didn’t provide any update on Nylander’s status ahead of Game 2 scheduled for April 22 at TD Garden in Boston.

“No updates on Willy,” Keefe told reporters after practice on Sunday. Twice.

This development (or lack of it) shouldn’t surprise anyone considering Keefe told reporters on April 19 that he was following orders from General Manager Brad Treliving, as documented by Heavy.

“[Treliving] has made it pretty clear there’s not going to be any daily injury updates or anything like that,” Keefe said.

Nylander has already missed Game 1, one that ended in an undisputable Boston Bruins 5-1 win over Toronto in which Boston went with Jeremy Swayman on goal with the netminder stopping 35 shots on the day.

Mysterious William Nylander’s Injury Enters Conspiracy Territory

Nylander’s injury must not be usual. In fact, we don’t even really know what type of injury he has suffered, or if he has suffered an injury at all.

The only clip (h/t Sportsnet) that has captured an action in which Nylander could have suffered some sort of problem is one in which he was hit on the right side of his body in a game between the Leafs and the Panthers played on April 16.

That, however, doesn’t explain how Nylander kept playing then and followed that with another appearance in Toronto’s regular-season finale one day later against the Tampa Bay Lightning when he logged a rather bulky 17:29 minutes of playing time.

NHL insider Chris Johnston published a story on The Athletic after speaking with a few sources close to the player and the franchise on April 21.

“Speaking with multiple sources briefed on the situation, word is that [Nylander] wasn’t playing through any significant ailments during a closing stretch of the regular season,” Johnston wrote.

“The issue is also said not to have cropped up as the result of some kind of off-ice incident,” Johnston revealed, ruling out “whatever other conspiracy theories might be floating around out there.”

Truth be told and just a few hours from the Game 2 puck drop, any conspiracy theories would probably have more content to them than any update and information the franchise has shared about.

Nylander Skated on Sunday But His Availability for Game 2 is unknown

The Leafs didn’t hold an official practice on Sunday after their Game 1 loss one day earlier. That being said, the team held an “optional skate” that was mandatory for all players scratched from Saturday’s first-round opener, per Johnston.

“There was a Nylander sighting at Warrior Ice Arena on Sunday,” Johnston reported. “He was the first player to take the ice—as he’s wont to do—before a 1:30 p.m. skate featuring the Game 1 scratches.”

Johnston shared a photo of the Leafs’ morning skate on Sunday in which Nulander is seen along with the aforementioned scratches.

Describing the practice in his story, Johnston wrote about it in the following discouraging terms.

“There wasn’t much joy to be found in the work [Nylander] was doing inside the Bruins practice rink,” Johnston reported. “Nylander looked to be laboring, especially early in the session and misfired entirely on a couple of shot attempts while the ice sheet was still freshly resurfaced.

“He wasn’t moving with his normal fluidity and frequently hunched over while regrouping along the boards between drills.”

According to Johnston, this was the first time Nylander has been seen on the ice since he last appeared in a game on April 17.

Leafs Must Bounce Back With or Without Nylander in Game 2

Nylander is not known for missing games because of injuries. He has appeared in 653 regular- and post-season games combined since he debuted on February 29, 2016. According to Johnston, Nylander’s absence from Game 1 on Saturday was just his second game missed due to injury to date.

“There’s an expectation that he’ll be ready to play at some point during this series,” according to Johnston’s sources.

Nylander’s teammate Jake McCabe shared a little nugget regarding the status of the Leafs winger before the optional practice at the franchise’s hotel in Boston, telling reporters he “seemed to be in good spirits today,” according to Johnston.

Johnston also revealed that, to the extent he could obtain information, “there’s no evidence” Nylander attended the game at TD Garden as the player “wasn’t spotted walking off either of the team buses in the morning or late afternoon.”

The Bruins have won eight consecutive games against the Leafs getting back to last year, per Stathead. Coincidentally, Boston has beaten Toronto by the same 4-1 result in back-to-back meetings while they also scored at least 3 goals in the prior two games between both teams played earlier this season.

“It’s a playoffs series, you have to be able to bounce back,” Keefe told reporters on April 21 ahead of Game 2 on Monday. “You have to be able to move on. You make your adjustments, and you get back at it. That is really it.

“We have been through this. We have bounced back well. We have an opportunity to do that tomorrow.”

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