William Nylander’s Game 1 status for Maple Leafs shrouded in mystery

Shawn McKenzie and Luke Fox get us set for Game 1 between the Maple Leafs and Bruins, and with serious lineup gamesmanship going on by the head coaches, it’s the Maple Leafs’ forward depth that could push them over the hump vs. rival Bruins.

BOSTON — The puck hasn’t dropped yet, and we already have our first seed of intrigue in the hotly anticipated first-round series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins.

William Nylander was spotted at Warrior Ice Arena with his team Friday but did not hit the ice for the Maple Leafs’ final practice before Saturday’s Game 1 at TD Garden.

No clarity was given on the status of Nylander, who was the lone Leaf to dress in all 82 regular-season games.

Coach Sheldon Keefe only allowed that both Nylander and the injured Bobby McMann (lower-body) are “possibilities” to suit up. (McMann hasn’t skated since suffering a lower-body injury on April 13, so we feel comfortable downgrading him to unlikely.)

Keep them guessing.

Such is the directive Keefe has been given on the health of his players by general manager Brad Treliving now that the games matter.

“Tree’s made it pretty clear to me there’s not going to be any daily injury updates or anything like that. Our guys are available, and that’s it,” Keefe said.

Is Nylander dealing with an illness or an injury?

“That’s all you’re gonna get,” Keefe replied.

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Nylander’s day off skates is curious considering he finished Wednesday’s finale seemingly unscathed.

The all-star winger registered a career-high 98 points this season but turned ice-cold down the stretch and has not scored a goal in 11 games.

“It’s tough to replace Willy. I’m not sure what’s going on with him,” said Calle Järnkrok, a fellow Swedish right shot who took Nylander’s top-unit power-play reps Friday. “Hopefully he can play.”

On a positive note, Järnkrok can play.

He looks to see his first action after missing 37 days with a hand injury that occurred just six games after the two-way forward missed five weeks due to a broken knuckle.

“It’s tough. You always want to play,” Järnkrok said, following an up-tempo 25-minute practice.

“You get hurt, come back for a couple games, and out again — it’s not ideal. I’m just happy it’s over with.”

Max Domi, who sat out two games and two practices down the stretch, resumed his spot on Auston Matthews’ top line and assures he is “100 per cent” healthy and ready to go.

A healthy Domi allows Keefe to split up Matthews and Mitch Marner, as Toronto’s brain trust decided “weeks ago” to spread its most potent offensive weapons in hopes of winning the battle on the strength of their superior forward depth.

As for the Bruins, the club is also keeping a lineup decision under lock and key.

Stud goaltenders Jeremey Swayman (43 starts) and Linus Ullmark (39) split the net through the regular season.

There is a plan for how to roll them out in Round 1, but coach Jim Montgomery is keeping mum. (Our guess: Swayman went 3-0 against Toronto this season. He starts Game 1.)

Secrets are in vogue, and gamesmanship is in full effect.

In other words, says Domi: “Welcome to playoffs.”

One-Timers: T.J. Brodie, Toronto’s second-highest-paid defenceman, appears to be a healthy scratch…. The Bruins and Maple Leafs are tied 8-8 in all-time head-to-head playoff series…. Matthews became only the second player to claim the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy three times (Alex Ovechkin, nine times). His 12-goal gap over runner-up Sam Reinhart marked the largest since Ovechkin (65) scored 13 more than Ilya Kovalchuk (52) in 2007-08…. Keefe on what Toronto learned from its regular-season games versus Boston: “We learned what doesn’t work.”

Maple Leafs projected Game 1 lineup in Boston:

Bertuzzi – Matthews – Domi

Knies – Tavares – Marner

Nylander (or Robertson) – Holmberg – Järnkrok

Dewar – Kämpf – Reaves

Rielly – Lyubushkin

Benoit – McCabe

Edmundson – Liljegren

Samsonov starts


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