Stepping up to the Mike

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:28 AM ET

Mike Fisher's career-high 19th goal came the same day he reminded reporters he has fully evolved from the shy, cliche-providing kid and into a leader in the Senators dressing room.

A guy who has a good handle on the situation and is unafraid to speak his mind.

"I definitely think we need to add a bit of experience going into the playoffs," Fisher said after the morning skate in discussing the approaching topic of the day these days. "We are still fairly young up front (average: 26.2 years), if you think about it.

"I definitely think we're going to add a forward ... I don't know if it's going to be a centre or on the wing."

Either way, Fisher has made a case this season that he can handle the workload and pressures of being a Top 6 forward. Only Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley (35 each) have scored more goals for the Senators.

Whether Fisher enters the playoffs as the No. 2 centre or the middleman on what should be a strong No. 3 line with Peter Schaefer and Chris Neil will become clearer by 3 p.m. next Thursday -- the NHL trade deadline (aka. the topic of the day, these days).

"I think I've proved since the start of the year that I can be the No. 2 guy," said Fisher, 25.

"I think I've improved to the point I'm ready to handle that role in the playoffs. But going into the playoffs you've got to be deep, and sometimes there's too much emphasis put on numbers. Whether I'm No. 2 or No. 3, I'm still going to be playing a lot."

And now, as one of the Senators' leaders, a lot is exactly what's going to be expected from him.

Starts and Stops:

Very, very impressive of the Senators to have such a BIG game with the BIG distractions sitting in the stands, just a few chairs down from their bench ... With shorthanded goals from Antoine Vermette and Peter Schaefer last night, Ottawa increased its league-leading total to 19, which is six more than the runner-up Toronto Maple Leafs. It's also just 20 fewer goals than the Chicago Blackhawks have on the power play ... Talk about great passes. Chris Kelly banked the puck off the end boards so it would come out front right of the net and onto the stick of Vermette at the end of their 2-on-1. Vermette easily scored into the open side. If you thought that was a case of Kelly's shot going wide, you haven't been listening to coach Bryan Murray talk about Kelly's smarts ... Nice job by the Canadian Forces guy, rappelling from The Bank's ceiling during the second intermission. But Spartacat does it faster ... Linesman Lyle Seitz was an unexpected visitor to the Senators bench when he fell through the door after getting caught in a third-period collision.

Between Periods:

An Ottawa casualty was Patrick Eaves, who limped off the ice after a collision with Brendan Witt in the third. "They wanted us to step up and take away the lanes, and I think he just bumped into me," said Witt. "I didn't really see what happened. But it was 6-0 at that point and there's no real point to giving any cheap shots. We're just trying to play our game and get ready for the next one." None of the Senators we talked to saw what happened, but Eaves' teammates looked to avenge a loss that would be significant if the rookie is seriously hurt ("I believe, going into the playoffs, he's going to be a really important player for us," Murray said before the game). First, Andrej Meszaros challenged Witt. Then, after the next faceoff, Captain Dan took two runs at him. A shift later, so did Neil. Both players bounced off the sturdy blue liner .... Only four other teams were represented at the game by scouts. In attendance was Scott White of the Dallas Stars, Wayne Mundey of the St. Louis Blues, Garth Joy of the Colorado Avalanche and, for the second game in a row (at least), Jim Clark of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Things that make you go hmmm...:

With Brian McGrattan a healthy scratch for the second night in a row, the fighting was left in the hands of Neil. He went with 6-foot-6, 247-lb. defenceman Nolan Yonkman on two separate occasions. The first was too uneventful to declare a winner, but Yonkman did go down first. Neil won the second ... The home team is up 6-0 with six minutes to go in the second period when we hear this from the visitors' broadcast booth: "The Ottawa Senators have gotten ... every ... break in this ... hockey game." There was probably a little more to it than that ... Another win and another decent performance by Ray Emery, who wasn't severely tested but, as he did in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, did display his quickness. You have to wonder if maybe Emery needs his eyes checked, though. Twice he stopped shots and didn't see the puck when it popped in the air in front of him.

BY THE NUMBERS: Jason Spezza's goal ended a personal, 11-game drought dating back to Jan. 21 ... After going 38 games without, D Brian Pothier now has a two-game goal-scoring streak ... Pothier benefitted from the blowout, playing 21:27 for the third-most ice time on the team ... Peter Schaefer now has a goal and an assist in each of the last two games ... Along with his goal, Alex Ovechkin had five shots on goal and was a minus-1 in 20:34 of ice time.

TRADING PLACES: Caps D Brendan Witt will be moved before Thursday, he has been told by GM George McPhee. "I'm just trying to play my game and not think about where I've heard I'm going," said the veteran, who requested a trade back in August. "I don't want that to be a distraction. George has been great. I understand the business side, and he has to get what he thinks is fair in return."


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