By Amanda DiPaolo
On Saturday night, the Nashville Predators 4-2 victory of the Dallas Stars was fueled by two goals from Mike Fisher.
Fisher was traded to the Predators from the Ottawa Senators on February 11. Predator’s General Manager, David Poile, made it clear that Fisher was just another piece to the Predators’ puzzle, and not the puzzle itself. In a press released the day of the trade, Poile explained that Fisher was a player the team was looking at for his strong all-around play. “He plays on the power play, kills penalties, is strong on draws and can match up against any opposing line,” Poile said.
However, the pressure was on Fisher to produce on the scoresheet, despite having only regsitered 14 goals in 55 games for the Senators this season.
Fisher recorded his first point in his first game for Nashville, registering an assist in the Predators 5-3 win over Colorado. Fisher scored in his third game for the Predators, in their 3-1 dramatic win over Vancouver at Bridgestone Arena on February 17th.
Since the Vancouver win, the Predators played 17 games before Saturday’s 4-2 win over Dallas. Despite some decent chances along the way, Fisher remained scoreless.
Predator’s defenseman Ryan Suter said Fisher wasn’t brought in to light the lamp. “Everybody thinks he is just all offense, but if you look at his stats, I think the most he has gotten was 20 or 22, somewhere in there. If he can just keep chipping in and helping out and playing at both ends of the rink as he has since he has gotten here, when he scores that’s just a bonus,” Suter said.
In 2009, Fisher collected 25 goals, a career high. Currently, Fisher has 17 on the season.
Fisher’s play has been impressive since joining the Predators. Not only does the Peterborough, Ontario native play on both the power play as well as the penalty kill, but he also ranks first amongst all NHL forwards in blocked shots with 83. Fisher has taken the 27th most faceoffs in the League, and averages just under 18 minutes per game for the Predators.
Despite the well-rounded play of one of Nashville’s newer players, the 30 year old was happy to score two goals on Saturday night.
“It felt good to finally get a couple. It’s been a tough slide in here lately, but it felt good to help out. Obviously, the win is most important, and we got what we wanted tonight,” Fisher said.
Playing through injury is something common this time of the year, when teams are fighting for their playoff lives. “He’s been banged up for a long time,” Coach Barry Trotz noted, adding that Fisher has been playing when others would have been less inclined to do so. Fisher has been battling an upper-body injury but says he is feeling better. “I’m feeling better definitely, shooting the puck much better, trying to get in those areas, and I definitely feel a lot stronger,” he said.
As to what has changed from one game to the next to allow for the outburst of offense from his line, Fisher says sometimes it is just about getting the right bounce. “It’s just a matter of breaks and trying to get everything to the net. It’s a funny game sometimes. You can work all you want and sometimes you get nothing. Other times, you are right on the doorstep and you get a break, and it felt good to get a couple tonight.”
Trotz, like Suter, notes that the forward is the complete package. “Fisher does so many other good things. I think he was a little bit snake-bitten, and a little bit frustrated that he wasn’t scoring. He’s been a little bit dry here. He’s such a complete player in a lot of other ways. Tonight was big for him; it was probably a big weight off his back, Trotz said, adding “Fisher’s line looks like they are coming alive and that’s great.”
On Saturday night, the Fisher line scored two goals, both by Fisher himself. On Thursday, when the Predators beat the Ducks by a 5-4 score, the Fisher line again accounted for two goals, both by Sergei Kostitsyn.
Patric Hornqvist, who calls Fisher a great player with a great shot, had four assists in the last two games. Hornqvist explains his line’s recent success. “It feels pretty good out there. Everybody is skating and trying to get pucks in deep. If we get the forechecking going, we know we are a good line. We are a good team if everybody works hard. We are just trying to get bodies and pucks around the net,” he said.
While Fisher had his breakout game for the Predators on Saturday night scoring two goals, the priority remains collecting two points every game. Nashville was won their last six starts and are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. Fisher says there are many reasons for the team’s success.
“Obviously we are getting great goaltending. [Pekka Rinne] is giving that to us every night and there is no different story all year, but we are getting timely scoring from different guys every night. Defensively, I think we are playing solid. We are doing whatever it takes throughout the night, like tonight we killed a late penalty to win. All those little things have been adding up to victories,” Fisher said, adding, “We have to keep that going.”
The Predators will have an opportunity to keep it going on Tuesday night when they host the Vancouver Canucks. The first place team in the League will be without former Predator Dan Hamhuis. Hamhuis suffered a concussion on Sunday afternoon against Columbus at Nationwide Arena.
– Photo credit: Getty Images
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