One game after being a healthy scratch for what is believed to be the first time since his rookie season with the Buffalo Sabres in 2005-06, Jason Pominville played Tuesday night against the San Jose Sharks.
But the Wild veteran said he wasn’t supposed to play. Plans changed because Ryan White was ill.
Pominville said coach Bruce Boudreau told him before Sunday’s game in Winnipeg that he wanted Pominville, 34, to take a few games off to “rest.”
“I’m still unsure of the message, so I don’t know if it’s really to rest or because he thinks I’m not playing well,” Pominville said Tuesday morning, before he assisted on Martin Hanzal’s second-period goal that gave the Wild a 2-1 lead. “Hockey players want to be on the ice and help the team.”
Boudreau said earlier in the season, the Wild planned to rest a couple of veterans in March. But recent losses have kept him from doing that.
“Pommy did look tired to me,” Boudreau said. “I thought a couple days off would generate a lot more energy. Not that he’s old or anything, but we do have guys that are in their 30s that play a lot of hockey. And with 20 games in 35 days, I thought it was prudent that we rest some guys, especially when most of our forwards are healthy.”
Pominville had 24 points in 22 games leading into the bye. He missed three games because of the mumps and has been up and down since, highlighted by some sloppy line changes and passes.
“I’ve had some good games, some bad games. Some nights I wasn’t as good or wasn’t rewarded,” Pominville said. “But I don’t feel any different.”
Cutting it short
Tuesday morning was the first chance for Boudreau to talk since abruptly ending his postgame media session in Winnipeg after a question about resiliency, saying, “You’re making it sound like we’re good.”
“When you’re emotional, you never know what’s going to come out of your mouth,” Boudreau explained. “I didn’t want to say anything stupid. I probably did even in the short time I was there, but I thought it was much more appropriate to leave than to end up doing something dumb.”
Small things hurt
Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk entered Tuesday’s game with a 2-7 record in 10 games in March with an .899 save percentage.
“He’s been great for us all year. Like the rest of the team right now, he’s been going through a little bit of a dry spell,” Boudreau said before the game. “But I’m completely confident that he’s going to bounce back.”
Dubnyk said, “It’s small things. It’s a save here and there that I’d like to make. It’s not far off. Unfortunately, it snowballs and everybody squeezes a little too tight, me included, and that’s never the answer in sports. These are things that are tough to get out of. I’ve been through much worse than this. I’ve got no problem about getting out of it.”
With Wisconsin’s season over, sophomore Luke Kunin, selected 15th overall in the draft last June by the Wild, is deciding whether to turn pro or return to the Badgers for his junior season.
If he signs, Kunin, 19, who captained the United States to gold at the recent world junior championships, likely would start in Iowa of the AHL on an amateur tryout with his three-year deal kicking in next season.
Badgers coach Tony Granato told the Wisconsin State Journal, “I think he’s ready to play pro hockey. I think his mind’s there. I think his heart’s there. I think that … he wants another challenge.”
Kunin, the first sophomore to captain the Badgers in 41 years, led the team with 22 goals and 38 points in 35 games one year after leading them with 19 goals.
• Former Wild goalie Josh Harding, who retired because of multiple sclerosis, did the “Let’s Play Hockey” announcement before Tuesday’s game.