Maple Leafs injury update: Why isn’t Nick Foligno playing vs. Canadiens?

Nick Foligno will not play for the Maple Leafs in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup first-round series against the Canadiens. The veteran forward is out with a lower-body injury, the team announced before puck drop on Monday.

The news comes as a surprise as, just hours earlier, coach Sheldon Keefe said, “Nick will play tonight.” He also participated in warmups before Game 3 and took line rushes between Alex Galchenyuk and William Nylander.

Foligno did not participate in the team’s morning skate, and Toronto did not practice on Sunday. Riley Nash took his spot in the morning and warmed up as well; Nash slotted into Foligno’s spot in the official lineup.

Losing Foligno leaves a big hole in the Leafs’ lineup, as the 33-year-old was shifted into John Tavares’ second-line center duties. Tavares was injured in Game 1 and is out indefinitely. In Game 2. He played over 13:24 with three shots and won 13 of 16 faceoffs. The move to center made sense for Keefe, but also came after Foligno offered up his services down the middle.

“We don’t have an abundance of options,” Keefe said before Game 2. “Nick has played a lot of center. He played a lot of center in Columbus before he came here this season. Even when he plays left wing, Nick ends up spending a lot of time playing low in the defensive zone. He is usually high in the offensive zone. He is usually the first guy back. He is very comfortable playing down low in our own end. It is a natural fit.”

After coming over from the Blue Jackets just before the trade deadline, Foligno notched four assists in seven games — all on the wing. In two playoff games, he had an assist on Nylander’s lone goal in the Maple Leafs Game 1 loss.

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