Jason Pominville’s scorching stretch has gotten the attention of USA Hockey.
The Quebec-born Wild winger, who has dual citizenship and represented the United States at the 2008 World Championships, is on the Olympic radar after not being invited to orientation camp in August.
Pominville is the highest-scoring American with 10 goals.
“We always intended to add more players to our pool,” said Jim Johannson, USA Hockey’s assistant executive director of hockey operations. “[General Manager David Poile] has said the team will be decided by body of work and performance in-season, and combining those things, Jason’s off to a great, great start.”
Poile said in August that Pominville, a two-time 30-goal scorer who has topped 20 four other times, “probably should have” been invited to camp. He wasn’t because a number of forwards, including the Wild’s Zach Parise, are shoo-ins coupled with younger players and role players being in the mix.
Johannson texted Pominville in September that he was on the U.S. “long list.”
“If this start can help me get back on the radar and back to where I’d love to be, awesome,” said Pominville, whose mother is American. “I was disappointed to not get the invite, but I put that behind me and focused on the season and the Wild and doing whatever it takes to force their hand to have to make a tough decision.”
The team will be announced during the Winter Classic on Jan. 1. There was speculation Pominville wasn’t invited to camp because he was born in Canada.
But Johannson said, “Not true. He’s played for us. He’s worn the jersey. He’s an American. Background doesn’t matter. If we ever got into that, we probably wouldn’t have Brett Hull in the U.S. Hall of Fame.”
With eight defensemen and a top six of Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella, Clayton Stoner and Keith Ballard playing at, as coach Mike Yeo put it, “a very high level,” rookie Matt Dumba was scratched for a third consecutive game.
If Dumba is going to continue to sit, the Wild might opt to return him to Red Deer of the Western Hockey League.
“From a development standpoint, young players do have to play,” Yeo said. “Eventually he would have to play.”
Dumba, is staying patient, saying, “I come to the rink every day, put on my skates and go on the ice like everybody else. It’s a process. Hopefully down the road I get in the lineup.”
Asked how long is too long for Dumba to be scratched before returning him to junior for the season, General Manager Chuck Fletcher said, “We’ll see how things go.”
Ballard did leave Tuesday’s game in the third period after blocking a shot and Spurgeon missed much of the second period with an injury.
A return from injury often is more mental than physical, and Charlie Coyle admitted Tuesday he’s going to have to learn to trust his right knee and overcome soreness.
After missing 11 games, Coyle returned Friday against Montreal before tweaking his knee late in the game. He missed Sunday’s game against New Jersey.
But team doctors have assured Coyle his knee is “as stable as ever,” so he returned to the right side of the Parise-Mikko Koivu line Tuesday. Coyle assisted on Koivu’s first-period goal.
“I think I’ll just have to fight through and get used to feeling the soreness the next few weeks here, even months, you never know,” Coyle said.
• Josh Harding got the nod against Calgary. He gave up one goal and now has given up 12 goals in 12 games. Yeo said he would like to give Niklas Backstrom another start “and get him back into a rhythm,” but Harding’s league-leading 1.09 goals-against average and .951 save percentage is making that difficult.