Mike Halford

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No Karlsson, maybe no Marchand for big Sens-B’s tilt

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There’s plenty at stake tonight at TD Garden when the Sens take on the Bruins.

Yet two of the biggest stars might be on the outside looking in.

Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson is out, for sure — following the morning skate, head coach Guy Boucher confirmed that Karlsson would sit with a lower-body injury, the third game he’s missed in the Sens’ last five.

Then, there’s Brad Marchand.

Boston’s leading scorer is set to have a disciplinary hearing today for a spear on Tampa Bay d-man Jake Dotchin. Marchand was given a five-minute major and game miscondcut for his actions — which occurred during a 4-0 Bruins win earlier this week — and could be suspended for tonight’s affair.

Per the Boston Globe, the team is prepping to play without Marchand:

Aside from tonight being a potential first-round playoff preview, the Sens — who will also be without d-men Cody Ceci and Marc Methot — need just a single point to clinch their postseason berth.

There’s also the jockeying for positions within the Atlantic Division — while Montreal has clinched top spot, the Senators and Bruins even at 94 points with the Toronto Maple Leafs one point back.

The Senators have a game in hand on the Bruins, so they head into tonight sitting second.

Wings first-rounder Cholowski leaves school, signs ELC

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Dennis Cholowski, the d-man taken 20th overall by Detroit at last year’s draft, is leaving St. Cloud State after his freshman campaign.

The Red Wings announced the move on Thursday, signing Cholowski to his three-year, entry-level deal.

Cholowski, 19, scored 12 points in 36 games this year as one of the youngest players in the country. Per the Red Wings, he finished fourth in points among 1998-born defensemen.

It’ll be interesting to see what Detroit does with Cholowski from here. While talented, he didn’t play in one of the top Canadian junior leagues in his draft year (starred with Chilliwack of the BCHL) and only had one campaign at the collegiate level.

Given the Red Wings’ organizational history with letting prospects spend extensive time in AHL Grand Rapids, that could be the play for Cholowski.

Gophers junior Collins goes pro, signs with Columbus

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University of Minnesota blueliner Ryan Collins is forgoing his senior season to join the Blue Jackets.

On Wednesday, Columbus announced it had signed Collins to a three-year, entry-level contract, adding that he’ll immediately report to the club’s AHL affiliate in Cleveland.

Collins, 20, scored nine points in 37 games this year, helping the Gophers capture the Big Ten championship. He’s got great size — 6-foot-5, 205 pounds — and has international experience, suiting up for the U.S. at the 2015 world juniors.

 

Chicago is Stanley Cup favorite, says Anaheim coach

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Maybe it’s posturing, maybe it’s honesty. But whatever the case, Randy Carlyle didn’t mice words when it came to picking who he thought was the lead horse in the Stanley Cup race.

“Everybody’s going to look to Chicago as the favorite,” Carlyle said, per the O.C. Register. “It’s pretty simple. And then everybody else will probably be bunched in because that’s the way standings read right now.

“Chicago with their history and their Stanley Cup experience and their group of players, I’d have to say that any team sitting with 107 points in the Western Conference would be the favorite.”

Standings wise, Chicago has emerged as the class of the West. The ‘Hawks are well clear of their two closest challengers — Minnesota, who sits six points back, and the Ducks, who are seven back — and, along with Washington, are currently the only two NHL clubs on 50 wins.

So Carlyle’s words make sense. Throw in the fact the core of this Chicago team has won three championships, and it’s hard to argue his point.

But…

There’s no doubt a bit of gamesmanship here. Two years ago, the Ducks and ‘Hawks met in the Western Conference Final, and Anaheim looked to be in control.

The Ducks were within one win of advancing to the Stanley Cup Final, but couldn’t close — Chicago won Game 6 at the United Center, then jumped out to a 4-0 lead to cruise to victory in Game 7. At the Honda Center, no less.

Carlyle wasn’t the coach then — it was Bruce Boudreau — but a large chunk of the current Ducks team was around in ’15. A large chunk of last year’s team is around, too, and that’s the same squad that crashed out in Round 1 (which ultimately cost Boudreau his job). Perhaps this is Carlyle’s way of taking some pressure off his club.

Or, maybe motivating it.

Flames send Johnson home from trip, recall goalie prospect Gillies

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Looks like Calgary will be without backup netminder Chad Johnson for the remainder of the regular season.

Johnson, who exited last night’s loss in Anaheim with a lower-body injury, has been returned to Calgary for further examination. In a related move, the club has recalled John Gillies from AHL Stockton on an emergency basis.

Johnson got the start on Tuesday, but left after just 5:19 and making one save on one shot. Brian Elliott came on in relief in an eventual 3-1 defeat.

Though Elliott had emerged as Calgary’s No. 1 over the second half of the season, Johnson has played a key role this year — especially early on, when Elliott was struggling. The 30-year-old went 18-15-1 with a .910 save percentage and 2.59 GAA prior to getting hurt.

This all makes for an interesting dynamic down the stretch.

Calgary has clinched a playoff berth, and is locked into one of the two wild card spots in the Western Conference. It has two games remaining — Thursday in L.A., Saturday in San Jose — and will be jockeying with fellow wild card holder Nashville, who is tied with Calgary on 92 points (and also has two games left).

Gillies, 23, could make his NHL debut against either the Kings or Sharks. The former Providence College standout was Calgary’s third round pick (75th overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft, and is considered to be the club’s potential goalie of the future.

This year, Gillies has appeared in 38 games for Stockton. posting a 17-14-1 record with a shutout, a 2.95 GAA and a .909 save percentage.