Pre-game reading: Some appreciation for the Presidents’ Trophy

— Up top, Kevin Shattenkirk is asked about the Capitals winning another Presidents’ Trophy, and replies: “We don’t want to be known as regular-season champions.”

— Of course, everyone knows Washington’s under tremendous pressure to win its first Stanley Cup. But for Caps blog Japers’ Rink, a second straight Presidents’ Trophy deserves to be celebrated and appreciated: “Perhaps some fans feel the only way they can be happy as a fan is to see their team win the Cup, but that seems like a pretty depressing way to enjoy something that, ultimately, is meant as entertainment. The journey should be part of the fun, even if it ends in heartbreak.” (Japers’ Rink)

— A Q&A with outspoken agent Allan Walsh, who says the NHL’s decision to skip the 2018 Olympics is “creating a poisonous atmosphere as we inch closer to the next round of collective bargaining. It’s really difficult to have the league kick the players in the groin and then say how much they want to work with them.” (ESPN)

— Another Q&A, this one a little more uplifting. It’s with Wild coach Bruce Boudreau, who believes bouncing around the minors as a player helped him become a better coach. “If I’d played regularly in the NHL, I probably would’ve taken a lot of things for granted and not learned as much as I had to do when you were in the minors. When you’re getting called up, getting sent down, seeing the effects of different players all over the place in different situations, whether it’s getting released, getting called up, getting sent down, that’s how you become a leader and a communicator.” (Sports Illustrated)

— The Sedin twins are only signed for one more year in Vancouver. And according to Henrik, it’s either re-sign with the Canucks or retire. “If they see a future for us then we might have another year in us here after next year. If not, I don’t think we’re prepared to go anywhere else.” (FanRag)

— A profile of Swiss center Nico Hischier, potentially the first overall draft pick this summer. “He’s got world-class skills, great hands, great vision, but he’s also our best defensive player,” said Halifax GM Cam Russell. “When you have a player that is your most skilled and basically your best player on the team, and he’s also your best defensive player, it provides great leadership for your younger players.”

Enjoy the games!

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    Varlamov looking forward to ‘fresh start in September’


    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


    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


    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


    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.