An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:
• Prosecutors in Denver dropped assault charges against Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov on Friday, saying they believed the story of Evgeniya Vivranyuk, but didn’t believe they had enough evidence to secure a conviction.
• Adrian Dater says Varlamov never seemed to let the charges affect him, but “it helps to know you’re innocent.” We should get some reaction from Varlamov himself later today.
• It won’t go down as one of the prettiest or most dramatic goals of his career, but the empty netter that sealed Washington’s 4-2 win over Carolina was still a big one for Alex Ovechkin. That last-minute tally counted as his 400th in the NHL, a milestone just five players have reached faster. Amazing.
• Brooks Orpik says mistakes he’s made in the past helped him forgive Shawn Thornton in the wake of being assaulted by the Boston enforcer.
• Chris Johnston offers a couple of compelling takes on why the West is so much better than the East this season.