Leafs star absent from practice, plus news on Spezza, Simmonds and Abruzzese

Published April 3, 2022 at 4:07 PM
BY BEN HODGSON
Fresh off of their big win in Philly, the Leafs traveled to Tampa Bay in preparation of an important Monday night matchup with the Lightning. The Leafs had a chance to practice at Amalie Arena on Sunday, but forward William Nylander was absent with what head coach Sheldon Keefe called an illness. Hopefully it's not worse.

The Leafs winger showed some discomfort during the Leafs 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers last night after dropping to one knee to block a shot from Flyers defenceman Cam York. To add insult to injury, the Flyers scored just seconds later. You can see the shot block here:


Nylander is not well known for his shot blocking prowess. He sits 14th on the team in shot blocks with 24. After last night's block, what happened immediately afterwards and the fact that he's absent from practice today, I would wager that he won't be climbing that list any time soon, as he had essentially paid the price for nothing on the play.


While we await word from Sheldon Keefe on Nylander's status for tomorrow's game, Nick Abruzzese has been promoted to fill in in Nylander's slot on the third line. Heck of an opportunity for the rookie.

Other notables from today's practice include Jason Spezza skating as an extra, indicating that Wayne Simmonds' game against the Flyers was enough to keep him in the lineup for the time being. Simmonds broke a 32-game goalless streak, threw 5 hits and beat the snot out of Flyers' tough guy Zack MacEwen in classic Wayne Train fashion. If Simmonds can keep up this level of play, he will be an valuable asset to the Maple Leafs come playoff time.


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