NASHVILLE -- After missing Sunday's game with an illness, Predators center Mike Fisher was expected back in the lineup for Tuesday's game against Vancouver.
On Sunday, the Predators dressed seven defensemen, as they had only 11 healthy forwards, forcing them to play without their two leading goal-scorers. Fisher and right wing Patric Hornqvist, each with 17 goals, were both out. Hornqvist, who has an upper-body injury, was expected to miss his fourth straight game, but skated on Tuesday morning and Nashville coach Barry Trotz said he is getting closer to returning.
Nashville recalled forward Chris Mueller from Milwaukee (AHL) on Tuesday as insurance in case another player gets sick. Trotz said David Legwand had a touch of the flu, but did not miss any action, so the Predators want to be prepared. Mueller has played in four games in Nashville with no points and a minus-1 rating this season.
With a healthy complement of forwards, that means Nashville likely will return to playing six defenseman. Rookie Ryan Ellis played only 3:56 in Sunday's 3-2 win over Dallas, a result, Trotz said, of being skated hard in the morning, as the team was not going to play him until Fisher took ill.
"It's hard going with seven 'D' sometimes," Trotz said. "We tried to do it with seven through the first period, but it just took away all the rhythm so I said to (associate coach Peter Horachek), who changes the 'D', let's just get into a little bit of a rhythm. That seventh guy is affecting everyone."
That meant less ice time for Ellis, who could be the odd man out on Tuesday.
After trading for defenseman Hal Gill last Friday, the Predators will have to figure out how to configure their defense on a nightly basis, as they are carrying eight healthy defensemen. Unless they elect to make a roster move, that means scratching two healthy players on a regular basis.
Colin Wilson - Craig Smith - Brandon Yip
Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Matt Halischuk - David Legwand - Gabriel Bourque
Jerred Smithson - Nick Spaling - Jordin Tootoo
Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Hal Gill - Roman Josi
Francis Bouillon - Kevin Klein
Out: Chris Mueller, Jack Hillen, Ryan Ellis