Turning point for Fisher

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

TORONTO -- It was a step in the right direction for Mike Fisher.

While the Senators centre started out the season determined to show he could be the club's No. 2 man behind Jason Spezza, Fisher struggled in the role through the first six games.

So it was no accident when coach Bryan Murray decided to make some changes prior to Saturday's 8-1 victory over the Devils.

Fisher found himself back skating with old friend Chris Neil and winger Antoine Vermette.

YET TO SCORE GOAL

No, it didn't net Fisher any goals in a victory that ended the club's four-game home winless skid, but he earned his first two assists of the season and looked a lot more comfortable than he had in any other game this season.

But Fisher knows he can do more and he's determined to show it.

"I'm not playing the way I can, I know that for sure," Fisher said prior to the club's flight here yesterday. "I've had shots, I've had chances, but I just know I can play better all-around. I thought I did play much better (against the Devils) and I've got to be more patient. I was starting to force things. It's coming.

"I don't think I was playing terrible. I wasn't creating the chances I normally do or getting in on the forecheck. I wasn't as involved as I need to be. I have to play with more of an edge."

COMFORT ZONE

Part of it might be stepping back into a comfort zone for Fisher. Last season, he played on a line with Peter Schaefer and Neil and they were one of the club's best trios down the stretch. They won battles for loose pucks in the corners and scored goals at key times.

With rookie centre Alexei Kaigorodov unable to seal up the No. 2 job in camp, Murray looked elsewhere on the depth chart to see if somebody could step into the role and using Fisher made a lot of sense.

"I have no problem with the way Mike has played. Sometimes, I believe, he's been pressing a bit," said Murray.

Fisher, a finalist for the Selke Trophy as one of the NHL's top defensive forwards last season, finished with 22 goals and 22 assists in 68 games. He can do more offensively, which is why he started the season with captain Daniel Alfredsson and Schaefer, but the move didn't result in more offence.

Fisher admitted he might be putting too much pressure on himself in the role as the No. 2 centre. The expectations are high from everybody and it doesn't help when the rest of the team is struggling to score goals as well.

"A lot of times I do put a lot of pressure on myself. I am my own worst critic," said Fisher. "I expected a lot out of myself and I am always trying to get better.

"You can put too much pressure on yourself. What I'm try to do now is teach this as a time to make sure I learn and I improve."

AN ENERGY LINE

Murray wants the line of Vermette, Neil and Fisher to bring energy. They don't have to score every night, but they can make big plays that can be the difference in the game.

"It's nice to get a point. I skated a little better. Playing with Neil and (Vermette), we were cycling the puck better and we had the puck," said Fisher.


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