Jason Brough

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Varlamov looking forward to ‘fresh start in September’

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DENVER (AP) Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov says he is making steady progress after undergoing season-ending hip surgery in January.

Varlamov plans to start skating at the end of the month and may put the goaltender pads back on in late May or early June.

The 28-year-old Varlamov was limited to 24 games as he dealt with a nagging groin injury that he’s hoping is cleared up through the hip surgery. He was 6-17 this season with a 3.38 goals-against average for the last-place Avalanche.

Varlamov said rehab is “going very well” and he’s looking forward to a “fresh start in September. I’m going to be ready for sure.”

There’s a chance Varlamov could be left unprotected by the team in the upcoming expansion draft with Las Vegas set to join the league.

Stamkos likely to miss rest of season

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Steven Stamkos won’t play tonight in Toronto, and he’s unlikely to play Friday or Sunday either.

In other words, the Lightning captain’s season is probably done. His knee just isn’t 100 percent yet.

“Yeah, it’s probably not looking that good,” Stamkos said Thursday, per NHL.com.

“If it doesn’t feel right, you can’t expect to be able to go out there and do the things you can when you’re healthy. Obviously with a significant injury, which it was, you want to make sure that things are healed so you don’t ever have to deal with it again.”

Theoretically, Stamkos could be ready in time for the playoffs. But the Lightning are unlikely to make the cut. In fact, they could be mathematically eliminated tonight.

Tampa Bay plays in Montreal Friday and hosts Buffalo Sunday.

Malkin keen to go to Olympics, hopes Penguins will let him

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MOSCOW (AP) Evgeni Malkin wants to go to the Olympics next February and he hopes the Pittsburgh Penguins will allow him.

Malkin told Russian sports daily Sovetsky Sport he was surprised by the NHL’s announcement Monday that it wouldn’t halt its season for players to go to South Korea. He says “there’s nothing good about this at all.”

He also questions why talks didn’t continue for longer, pointing out that a final decision on the 2014 Olympics wasn’t reached until July 2013.

If Malkin is allowed to go the Olympics by Pittsburgh, he could join fellow Russian star Alex Ovechkin and his Washington Capitals teammates Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov, who have said they want to play in South Korea.

Related: Ovechkin thinks the NHL’s bluffing about Olympics

Marchand gets two-game suspension for spearing

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Brad Marchand will miss the rest of the Boston Bruins’ regular season with a suspension.

But he’ll be back as soon as the playoffs begin.

The NHL announced today that Marchand has been suspended two games for delivering “a forceful spear directly to the groin of” Tampa Bay’s Jake Dotchin on Tuesday.

“This is not accidental or inadvertent contact,” the league ruled, while also noting Marchand’s “substantial history of attacking the lower body of unsuspecting opponents.”

The Bruins host Ottawa tonight and finish their 82-game schedule Saturday at home to Washington. Boston is still fighting for playoff seeding, so it’s more than a two-game vacation for Marchand.

Still, the Bruins have to be happy that their leading goal-scorer will be back for the first game of the playoffs, whoever and wherever they end up playing.

Guhle reportedly headed to Sabres’ AHL team

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One of the most important Buffalo Sabres prospects is on his way to the AHL.

Brendan Guhle, a 19-year-old defenseman whose season with the Prince George Cougars just ended, is reportedly headed to Rochester.

From the Prince George Citizen:

The Cougars’ MVP has already proven he can play in the NHL, having been called up for three games for Buffalo in December, and today he’ll join the Sabres’ AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y.

“It’s a chance to prove myself and get ready for next year and I’m looking forward to it,” said Guhle. “I’m not planning on coming back next year but you never know.”

A second-round draft pick in 2015, Guhle has top-four potential. And as everyone in Buffalo knows, that’s something the Sabres desperately need.

Guhle played six games for the Americans last season. He had one goal and three assists.