Fisher answers critics

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

The woods are full of theorists who say Mike Fisher's lack of production is related to a contract that pays him $6 million this season and a total of $21 million by the time it expires in 2013.

Mike Fisher says that's hogwash.

"I signed the contract before last season, and I had the most goals I've ever scored (23, in 2007-08)," the Senators centre said before the 500th game of his NHL career.

"I don't really see it as that. What you make or whatever, to me it doesn't affect how I play or how I work. I've done a lot of the same things (this season). It's been frustrating. I know I'm going to get out of it. I've been a streaky scorer at times. I just need a few to get me rolling, and things will be fine."

Maybe things will start rolling now. For Fisher and the Senators.

Fisher's fourth goal of the season in last night's 5-1 win over the Hurricanes ended his drought at 19 games.

"I've never gone through stress like this, in my whole career," he said.

Also having a tough time has been Antoine Vermette, who last summer signed a two-year, $5.525-million deal on expectations of becoming a 30-goal scorer.

Last night, he picked up his fifth of the season.

"It was probably his best game of the year," said coach Craig Hartsburg. "If he plays like that, with that much energy and working that hard every night, it's exactly what we need."

Vermette, who also had an assist, now has six points in his last five games.

He has played a more physical game in getting untracked. It's his way of contributing something else while waiting for his luck to return around the net.

"I try to work hard, but it's frustrating at times," he said. "You come with good intentions, I'm not talking just myself, but eventually if you stick to it, things are going to go your way."

Maybe things will start rolling now. For Fisher, Vermette and the Senators.

Starts and stops

Now there are some lyrics that haven't been heard much at Scotiabank Place lately. The Heat Is On. With last night's goal being his first at home in almost six weeks, Dany Heatley has been off ... Joe "Uh Oh" Corvo did not throw up all over himself, like he too often did while wearing a Senators sweater at Scotiabank Place. No, that distinction went to the 'Cane wearing No. 7 (Niclas Wallin), who turned over the puck twice on Dean McAmmond's goal, not No. 77 (Corvo). In fact, Corvo scored one himself, his third in three games against his old team. Fans then remembered they should be booing him ... There were quite a few empty seats, especially in the lower bowl. Must have been the whether. Yup, fans who wondered whether the Senators were going to be as lifeless as they were in Saturday's 2-0 loss to the Rangers. They weren't ... Two Special Spezza Moments: A burst down the right wing that drew not one, but both Hurricanes defencemen Dennis Seidenberg and Joni Pitkanen, only to leave Heatley open to receive a perfect spin-around backhand pass from his centre AND the straddling of the blue line to stay onside while catching a long flip pass from Vermette. Spezza didn't score with the breakaway, but he was hooked on the play by Anton Babchuk, and Vermette scored the key third goal with Babchuk just stepping out of the box.

Between periods

Bryan Murray has already talked to Martin Gerber about going to Binghamton on a two-week conditioning stint, which means he won't have to go on waivers just yet. It sounds like Gerber is open to the idea. "He was a real man (about it)," said Murray. "I like this guy a lot. He's a real professional. He just wants to play. He understands what we're trying to do here. He's a good man, a good pro. It hasn't totally worked out for him here, as we know, but I can say enough complimentary things about him." ... Johnny Bower must shake his head and chuckle when he sees Alexandre Picard's slapshot knock Cam Ward's mask clear off his face -- and the ref whistle the play down for safety sake. Silly rule ... The Senators actually have the offensively capable defenceman they're supposed to be searching for. His name is Brendan Bell, and last night he was a healthy scratch for the second time since Jan. 3. Bell makes mistakes, but has scored two goals in the four games between benchings, and possesses talents the other defencemen on the team do not. He should be playing for this team ... Fisher, on playing No. 500 last night: "I feel fortunate, blessed, to be able to play my whole career here in Ottawa. I've enjoyed every game. It's been a lot of fun. Hopefully, I'll be here for a long time."

Things that make you go hmmm....

This trade rumour comes from Dave, the usher/elevator operator. "To Phoenix," he said on a night that just kept getting colder and colder. "Me and two other ushers to be named later." ... Among the adjustments Brian Elliott has had to make since arriving from Binghamton is talking to a media scrum of more than two. He had about four cameras and a dozen reporters in his face after the morning skate. "I don't think you ever get used to that," said Elliott, obviously uncomfortable with the interrogation. "You kind of have to shut it out of your mind and just play your game." Last time he had this much attention? "Probably the NCAA championship (in 2006)," he said. "There's a lot of attention on it in the States. It was in the whole state of Wisconsin." ... There's more to life than hockey. There's also football. Former Rough Rider defensive lineman Glenn Kulka is returning to the MMA ring in March. And former Rough Riders jack of all trades Brendan "The Beav" Taman has resigned from his post as Winnipeg Blue Bombers player personnel director.


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