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Fisher's Bounce-Back Season Coming at Needed Time

New Preds Captain Already Has More Goals, Points and Assists Than Last Season's Totals

by John Glennon @glennonsports / jg1sport@aol.com

In the midst of a two-game road trip last week, Predators Captain Mike Fisher received troubling news from back home.

A nasty storm front - one that pushed a handful of tornadoes through Middle Tennessee - had slammed into Fisher's home in Williamson County at daybreak, hurtling one of the house's chimneys to the ground and scattering it in the driveway.

The good news was that neither Fisher's wife, Carrie Underwood, nor the couple's two-year-old son, Isaiah, were harmed, which allowed Fisher - a week later - to joke about the rooftop damage.

"It wasn't a stone chimney," Fisher said with a smile, "but it should have been."

Had the structure only been as sturdily built as the 36-year-old Predators center, there may never have been a problem in the first place.

Heading into this season, it was easy to wonder what the future might hold for Fisher, who was entering the final year of his contract.

He'd deservedly been awarded the "C" for the first time in his career, a sign of the respect he commanded among teammates. But Fisher was also coming off a 29-point year in 2015-16, the lowest full-season total of his career.

"I don't know - I felt like early [in 2015-16], I was playing OK, but I just wasn't getting those numbers like normal," Fisher said. "I guess I finished pretty good, but it was an off year. It was kind of one of those things that was hard to explain - sometimes the points don't come."

A year later, Fisher is barreling forward as the Predators march toward the playoffs.

In 62 games, his 16 goals, 22 assists and 38 points have already topped his 70-game totals in all three categories last year. Fisher is on pace to record the seventh 20-goal season of his career, and his assist in Tuesday's shootout loss to Anaheim gave him three points in the Preds' last four games.

Not too shabby for a player nearing the end of his 17th regular season.

"Yeah, my body has felt relatively good this year, so that's been great," Fisher said. "I think with the depth we have this year, I'm not playing quite as much as I was the last few years, which is good. I can kind of get rest when I can, and I think that's helped."

Fisher's also contributing in more ways than just goals and assists: He's winning a career-high 54.2 percent of his faceoffs. He leads the team in hits with 135. He leads Predators forwards in blocked shots with 55, a total that includes three during one penalty kill in a recent victory.

Video: WSH@NSH: Fisher caps off passing play for PPG

"He's still a bull out there on the ice," Predators goalie Pekka Rinne said. "He's so strong. When he hits, it's like a concrete wall. He plays tough. He plays the game the right way - at both ends of the ice, a two-way player."

A leader in the locker room since he was acquired from Ottawa in 2011, Fisher has taken his new responsibilities as captain seriously as well. He's earned enough respect over the years that he's had no need to try to transform his personality.

"I don't know if he's really changed too much this year, but I think he understands and appreciates his role," Rinne said. "I think he really cares about everybody, which to me is one of the greatest qualities in him.

"He's the kind of guy that looks after everybody, asks how the family is doing and things like that. It's not just him asking to be nice. He actually cares. Things like that make him a really good leader and captain."

Video: NSH@COL: Fisher nets pretty backhand goal on break

So what does it all mean for Fisher looking forward?

Both he and Predators General Manager David Poile said before the season started they didn't plan on this being a one-and-done year for Fisher as Nashville captain. So his contributions this season - and the fact he's still playing a key role on the team - would seem to be good signs the Predators will want him back.

Fisher certainly hopes so.

"I've tried not to look too far ahead, because sometimes I think it takes you out of the moment a little bit," Fisher said. "I'm really enjoying being around this group of guys, and I'm focusing on the stretch run. When the time comes to worry about that down the road, that will come and it will take care of itself."

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