NASHVILLE – The Nashville Predators will get a boost on Thanksgiving as forward Mike Fisher will return to the lineup against the Edmonton Oilers.
"I'm excited," Fisher said. "It's been a long road. I'm excited to get back. The team has played really good while I've been gone, so it's definitely been easier to watch. It's been fun to be a part of even though I haven't been playing games. I just want to come in and contribute and get back to the way I know I can play right away."
Fisher sustained a ruptured Achilles tendon over the summer and has since been working to get back on the ice with his teammates. The rehabilitation process was tough at times.
"Rehab took a lot of patience," Fisher said. "It was slow, and it's one of those things you can't really push. It's just time. I'm glad it's over. I've still got to manage and work it, but the hardest part is over."
Fisher has been practicing with the Predators for a few weeks now and will be on a line with veteran forwards Olli Jokinen and Derek Roy against Edmonton.
"Those guys make plays and skate real well," Fisher said. "I know they're going to make it easier for me coming back in. I've played against them for a long time, and it's nice to be playing with them now."
Nashville has been successful at home lately, winning four in a row and six of its last seven at Bridgestone Arena. That streak will be put to the test Thursday against a hungry Edmonton team.
"We know we've got to be real strong at home and make it a hard building to play in," Fisher said. "The way these guys have been competing and playing hard makes it real tough. We've got to keep it going. If we compete and battle like we have been, we're going to get a lot more wins.
The game between Edmonton and Nashville will be the only game of the day, which puts the spotlight of the hockey world on these players.
Nashville is looking forward to the attention.
"I think every night, you enjoy playing," Predators forward James Neal said. "To be the only game, obviously, there may be a few more viewers so you want to be prepared and put on a good show."
Edmonton comes into the game winless in its past seven games. Edmonton's last win came Nov. 9 against the New York Rangers. Nashville is determined not to overlook the struggling Oilers.
"I think a huge part of our team has been not overlooking anybody this year," Neal said. "We're going in and giving every team the respect they deserve, and I think that's helped us with our success. It's another game, and we'll go into it with the same mindset."
Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz will be a healthy scratch against Nashville. The Oilers are looking for ways to get back into the win column.
"We're looking for some beef in our lineup tonight against this team, "Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "Justin has struggled a little bit as of late, and we thought it was time to hit the reset button."
Here are the projected lineups:
Taylor Hall – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Nail Yakupov – Mark Arcobello – Teddy Purcell
David Perron – Leon Draisaitl – Jesse Joensuu
Matt Hendricks – Boyd Gordon – Steve Pinizzotto
Keith Aulie – Andrew Ference
Nikita Nikitin – Mark Fayne
Oscar Klefbom – Jeff Petry
Scratched: Justin Schultz, Luke Gazdic, Martin Marincin
Injured: Benoit Pouliot (Broken foot)
Filip Forsberg – Mike Ribeiro – James Neal
Colin Wilson – Calle Jarnkrok – Craig Smith
Olli Jokinen – Mike Fisher – Derek Roy
Eric Nystrom – Paul Gaustad – Taylor Beck
Roman Josi – Shea Weber
Anton Volchenkov – Seth Jones
Mattias Ekholm – Ryan Ellis
Scratched: Gabriel Bourque, Victor Bartley
Injured: Matt Cullen (upper body), Viktor Stalberg (lower body)
Status report: Schultz and Marincin will be the healthy scratches on defense for the Oilers. … Fisher will be on the third line in place of Cullen for the Predators.
Who's hot: Hall has two goals and one assist in his past five games. … Wilson has two goals and three assists in his past four games.