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

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

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

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

The 27-year-old reached 40 goals for the second straight season and set a career-high with 98 points, but registered just four assists over his final 11 games of the schedule.

A key member of the Leafs’ potent attack alongside Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and John Tavares, Nylander had four goals and 10 points in 11 playoff games last spring as Toronto won a series for the first time in nearly two decades.

The Swede has put up 17 goals and 40 points in 50 career post-season contests.

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“It’s not an easy thing to do, playing in the league (all) 82 games,” Tavares said Saturday ahead of Game 1. “It’s a grind and you go through a lot physically, mentally, emotionally, all those sorts of things.”

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

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

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

The 53rd pick at the 2019 draft made his NHL debut inside the tightly managed post-season 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 had a goal in four playoff appearances. “This is more of what playoffs are really about.

“I’m excited.”

The Leafs and Bruins are meeting for the fourth time in 12 years in the first round. Boston has won each series — 2013, 2018 and 2019 — in seven games.

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

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“You see the offence come for him, which is great because that’s what he does so well and he’s got a tremendous shot,” Toronto’s captain said. “He just continues to become more well-rounded and been a really good pro. The way he works and prepares and wants to be a difference maker and a contributor each and every night, and to maximize every opportunity, I think he’s shown that tremendously.

“Excited about what he brings to our team.”

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

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

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