<span class="vcard">James O'Brien</span>

Marc Methot Chris Terry

Senators sign Methot to four-year, $19.6M extension

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You don’t often see NHL teams divulging contract details, but it seems like the Ottawa Senators are just that excited about keeping defenseman Marc Methot in the fold.

The team announced his four-year, $19.6 million extension on Monday. That works out to a $4.9 million cap hit starting in the 2015-16 season.

Ottawa also provided the blueliner with a modified 10-team no-trade clause. At 29, he gets a nice amount of freedom in dictating his future if the Senators decide to part ways.

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun indicates that Methot compromised on term (he reportedly wanted a five or six-year pact) while the Senators bumped up his salary.

There was some concern that the Senators wouldn’t get a deal done with the then-pending unrestricted free agent, but it’s clear he wanted to stay in Ottawa. With Cody Franson dealt to the Nashville Predators, the trade market continues to dry up when it comes to defensemen.

Methot has had a rough 2014-15 campaign in some respects, collecting five assists while being limited to just 17 games played. (That said, his possession stats have been strong this season.)

He’s currently in his third season with the Senators after playing with the Columbus Blue Jackets for six years. His previous cap hit was $3 million, so this is a healthy bump for the blueliner.

Couture: Sharks keep making same mistakes

Logan Couture
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The San Jose Sharks are currently ranked second in the Pacific Division, but their position is a lot shakier than it might originally appear.

With 66 points in 58 games played, their lead is tenuous over Vancouver (65 in 55 GP) and Calgary (65 in 56 GP) while Los Angeles’ surge looks foreboding as the Kings have 62 points in 55 games played.

In other words, San Jose can’t really afford lengthy stumbles (like going 2-4-2 in its past eight games), so Sunday’s 5-2 defeat to the Tampa Bay Lightning is quite troubling.

More than anything else, the Sharks seem worried about defensive lapses, as CSNBayArea.com reports.

“It’s so frustrating because the mistakes we’re making are things we work on, things that we do in practice, things that we watch on video,” Logan Couture said.

“I mean, no one’s going to be perfect in a hockey game, but when you’re constantly making the same mistakes every single night, you need to take a look in the mirror and wonder what you’re bringing, if you’re mentally prepared every night and you know what you’re supposed to do.”

Marc-Edouard Vlasic returning to the mix should help long-term, but that wasn’t really the case on Sunday, as he had a matching -2 rating with defensive partner Brent Burns.

Couture frames the issue a the Sharks being self-destructive, yet one cannot help but wonder if the Sharks simply lack the personnel to raise their level of defensive play. Whatever the explanation may be, San Jose cannot afford to fade down the stretch.

Cutting down on their own mistakes would certainly improve their odds of avoiding a lull.

PHT Morning Skate: Ovechkin, Nash gun for the Richard Trophy

Washington Capitals v New York Rangers
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

For years, it’s felt like the Maurice Richard Trophy might as well have been called the Alex Ovechkin Award. Rick Nash is really having an amazing goal-scoring year in 2014-15, however, setting up quite the thrilling race between two of the NHL’s best snipers.

What’s especially cool is that the Capitals and Rangers play on April 11, setting up a potential final showdown. So who gets it? (The Hockey News)

The Avalanche are trying to find the right balance between winning and building. (The Denver Post)

Mike Richards seems to be making lemonade out of AHL lemons so far. (Los Angeles Times)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $50,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Monday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts Monday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

TSN notes that Steve Montador was a plaintiff in a concussion case against the NHL. (TSN)

A tweet can change someone’s life. Just ask Corey Hirsch. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

Out of a pickle: Sharks get Vlasic back

vlasicap
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The San Jose Sharks have a challenge in bottling up the Tampa Bay Lightning attack on Sunday, but they appear to be getting a defensive reinforcement.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic appears ready to return to the lineup, prompting the demotion of Dylan DeMelo, according to CSNBayArea.com’s Kevin Kurz.

Vlasic, 27, has missed four straight games with an upper-body injury. While his scoring totals are generally modest (17 points in 52 games this season), he’s enough of a defensive stalwart to earn an Olympic nod. Many would agree that he’s the Sharks’ best defensive defenseman.

This won’t necessarily make facing Tampa Bay a cakewalk, but they’ll at least be easier to manage.

Goalie nods: Flyers lean on Emery, Neuvirth gets a shot

Pittsburgh Penguins v Philadelphia Flyers

News and notes from around the crease …

No shame about Ray

The Philadelphia Flyers couldn’t have felt great about their slim playoff hopes when Steve Mason went down with his knee injury. For better or worse, it’s on Ray Emery, and Sunday is the kind of game he has to win.

Since taking over for Mason in February, Emery’s gone 1-0-2. The 30-year-old’s overall numbers aren’t much to brag about (9-9-3 with a .890 save percentage), but this stretch will probably make a big impact on how the league views the pugnacious puck-stopper going forward.

On the Buffalo side, Michal Neuvirth gets a chance to stretch his legs in the Sabres’ net with Jhonas Enroth shipped off to Dallas.

The situations are quite different, yet both netminders have plenty to prove today.

Elsewhere …

Blues at Panthers: Brian Elliott vs. Roberto Luongo

Lightning at Sharks: Expected starters are Ben Bishop against Antti Niemi

Capitals at Ducks: Expected starters are Justin Peters vs. John Gibson