Mike Halford

Chicago Blackhawks left wing Garret Ross (61) is congratulated by teammate Mark McNeill after scoring during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings in Detroit, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
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‘Hawks prospect Ross facing revenge porn charges

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Garrett Ross, a forward taken by Chicago in the fifth round of the 2012 draft, is facing charges for revenge porn stemming from an August 2015 incident, per CSN Chicago.

More:

The 23-year-old has been charged with one count of nonconsensual dissemination of a sexual image, also referred to as revenge porn, according to DeKalb County records.

The charge is a Class 4 felony, which could be punishable by one-to-three years in prison. Revenge porn became illegal in Illinois last year; the new law took effect on June 1, 2015.

Ross, 23, has spent the last three seasons with Chicago’s AHL affiliate in Rockford. On Tuesday, IceHogs head coach Ted Dent told WREX13 Ross had been excused from practice due to “personal reasons,” though WREX noted Ross had been removed from the team’s lineup over the weekend.

A Rockford spokesman told the station the club had “no comment on the situation.”

CSN Chicago requested comment from the Blackhawks regarding Ross, and has yet to hear back.

Goalie nods: Mrazek’s back, but in-form Howard starts for Detroit

Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard blocks a shot from the Los Angeles Kings during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Los Angeles, Monday, Jan. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
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Given the importance of tonight’s game in Tampa Bay — read more about that here — you’d think Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill would have started Petr Mrazek, given Mrazek’s healthy enough to suit up.

But instead, Blashill will stick with Jimmy Howard.

Mrazek will be on the bench tonight — his first back in uniform after falling ill last week — as Howard looks to extend his winning streak to three games, and continue his good run of fortune against the Bolts.

Howard has stopped 50 of his last 54 shots faced, good for a .924 save percentage, and has terrific numbers against Tampa Bay this season, going a perfect 2-0-0 with a 1.00 GAA and .961 save percentage.

For the Bolts, Ben Bishop starts in goal.

Elsewhere…

Chad Johnson‘s in for Buffalo, as the Sabres visit Carolina. The ‘Canes counter with Cam Ward.

Steve Mason played last night in Philly’s 4-1 win over the Isles but, because backup Michal Neuvirth is out injured, it’s unlikely the Flyers go to third-stringer Anthony Stolarz in another big game for their playoff chances. Sergei Bobrovsky‘s in for Columbus.

John Gibson starts for the Ducks (more on their goalie rotation here), while Mike Condon goes for the Habs.

— Sounds like Braden Holtby will be in goal for the Caps in Ottawa. The Sens are going with Craig Anderson.

Ondrej Pavelec is likely for the Jets tonight as they host the Canucks. No word yet on a Vancouver starter.

Scott Darling will continue his starting streak in place of the injured Corey Crawford, as Chicago hosts Dallas. Kari Lehtonen is likely for the Stars.

— No word yet on a Kings starter after Jonathan Quick got the hook versus Nashville last night. Devan Dubnyk‘s in for Minnesota.

Cam Talbot versus Mike Smith as the Oilers visit the Coyotes in Arizona.

Brian Elliott, who shut out the Canucks on Saturday in his return from injury, goes back in goal for the Blues. Sharks will start Martin Jones.

 

Avs rule out Duchene, MacKinnon for next two games — including Saturday’s big one versus Wild

at Pepsi Center on March 7, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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The race for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference just got more interesting.

The Colorado Avalanche, currently one point up on Minnesota for the final spot, have two big games on the horizon — Thursday against Philly, and Saturday against Wild.

And for those next two games, the Avs will be without their two top scorers.

Matt Duchene, who leads with 56 points, and Nathan MacKinnon, who sits second with 52, are out with knee injuries for at least the next two contests, head coach Patrick Roy confirmed on Tuesday.

More, from the Avs website:

Roy said the statuses of Duchene and MacKinnon would be reevaluated on Sunday before the team’s flight to Nashville for the start of a two-game road trip. Colorado plays at the Predators on Monday and the St. Louis Blues next Tuesday.

The 26-year-old Duchene got hurt in Wednesday’s game at Vancouver, while the 20-year-old MacKinnon injured himself in the third period of Friday’s contest at Calgary. The Avalanche won all three games of its Western Canada swing that concluded on Sunday in Edmonton.

Now, remember the “interesting” part? Here’s where it gets interesting.

With Duchene and MacKinnon hurt, the Avs have recalled ’15 first-rounder Mikko Rantanen from AHL San Antonio.

Rantanen, 19, has been tearing up the American League this year. He has 52 points in 44 games, was named to the league’s annual All-Star Game, leads all AHL rookies in scoring and recently set a new San Antoino franchise record for points and assists by a first-year player.

The catch, of course, is that Rantanen was sent down to the AHL earlier this year after playing six NHL contests. He participated in his seventh in Sunday’s win over Edmonton, meaning he’s got two more before he hits lucky No. 9 — at which time the Avs have to decide whether he’ll play No. 10, and “burn” the first year of his entry-level deal, or be sent back to San Antonio.

Stars, Ducks, Sharks can all clinch playoff spots tonight, and here’s how…

Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin (91) yells after scoring a goal agains the Montreal Canadiens during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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Only two teams — Washington and Los Angeles — have punched their tickets to the postseason thus far, but that number could grow to as many as five teams by the end of Tuesday night’s action.

The Dallas Stars, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks all have playoff clinching scenarios at hand. For Dallas and San Jose, it would represent a return to the postseason after missing last year and, for Anaheim, it would mark the franchise’s fourth consecutive invite to the dance.

The scenarios, courtesy NHL.com:

The Stars will clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Blackhawks in any fashion OR if they get one point against the Blackhawks AND the Wild lose to the Kings in any fashion OR if the Wild lose to the Kings in regulation.

The Ducks will clinch a playoff berth if they get at least one point against the Canadiens OR if the Coyotes lose to the Oilers in any fashion.

The Sharks will clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Blues in any fashion OR if they get one point against the Blues AND the Coyotes lose to the Oilers in any fashion OR if the Coyotes lose to the Oilers in regulation.

It’s also worth noting that Washington can clinch the Metropolitan Division and top seed in the Eastern Conference if it beats Ottawa in any fashion tonight. The Caps also need just three more wins to match their franchise record of 54, set during the 2009-10 campaign.

Torchetti to (again) scratch Vanek, who’s not ‘at the level I think he can play at’

Minnesota Wild's Thomas Vanek, of Austria, right, works for the puck against Columbus Blue Jackets' Brandon Dubinsky during the first period of an NHL preseason hockey game in Columbus, Ohio, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
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Thomas Vanek can’t get a game.

Prior to Tuesday’s Wild-Kings game in Minnesota — a huge one for the Wild’s playoff chances — Vanek was out getting extra work following the morning skate, a sure indication he’d be made a healthy scratch for a third straight time tonight.

And if the morning skate wasn’t enough of a telltale sign, there was what interim head coach John Torchetti said afterward.

Vanek was parked after Minnesota’s 7-4 loss to New Jersey on Mar. 17, a game in which the veteran went goalless — for the 10th straight contest — and finished with a minus-2 rating in just 13:55 of ice time.

The Wild have played twice since then, and won both — shootout victories over the ‘Canes and ‘Hawks. So it makes sense Torchetti would keep the winning lineup intact, and keep Vanek in the press box.

What doesn’t make sense, however, is Vanek’s overall situation.

This is the second coach that’s healthy scratched him this season, as ex-Wild bench boss Mike Yeo did it back in February. And while Vanek’s overall numbers on the season aren’t that bad — 18 goals and 41 points in 70 games — this trend of scratches has to be alarming, especially since he’s got one more year on a deal that pays $6.5 million annually.

The Wild head into tonight sitting one point back of Colorado for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. The Avs are off until Thursday, when they’ll host the Flyers.