Sheldon Keefe playing more mind games; Nylander appears at practice

Ryan Smitheram
April 22, 2024  (11:58)

William Nylander seen taking the ice at the morning skate ahead of Game 2
Photo credit: Chris Johnston

After missing Game 1, Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander took part in the morning skate ahead of game 2 tonight and appeared set to return following a mysterious injury.

There was plenty of shock when Nylander was absent from Friday's practice ahead of Game 1 Saturday night in Boston. Before Saturday's game, it was revealed by TSN's Darren Dreger and Chris Johnston that he woke up with 'discomfort' Thursday morning following the Leafs regular season finale against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Following the Leafs' game day skate, which Nylander was absent from, Sheldon Keefe continued to be vague about any update regarding his health. Yesterday, Nylander joined some of his teammates on the ice for an optional practice where they were hounded by the media in the hopes that someone would provide a clearer picture. Unfortunately for the media, the players have bought into GM Brad Treliving's 'no update update' of injuries.
The good news for the Leafs following a Game 1 beat down in which it became their eight straight playoff game scoring 2 goals or less, is that Nylander took part in his second straight skate as he joined the morning skate ahead of Game 2. Nylander dawned a 'top-six' blue jersey, but as The Hockey News' David Alter reported, so were seven other Leafs, indicating that Keefe is playing mind games with the media and Bruins to not reveal too much about line combinations.
When line rushes first began, Nylander was not a participant, instead he was skating off to the side with Noah Gregor who projects to be a healthy scratch again tonight.
However, Nylander did sub in for Nick Robertson on the third line during some of the rushes which leads to the speculation that he is going to play as long as he feels well enough to following practice. Given that he took Robertson's spot in line rushes, should he return it would make sense that Robertson will be scratched. As David Alter noted, although Nylander didn't participate in drills that would indicate he will play tonight, it is the playoffs and would not be the first time a player makes a return after all signs pointed to another night in the press box.
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Sheldon Keefe playing more mind games; Nylander appears at practice

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