One of Jason Pominville’s specialties during his eight-year Buffalo Sabres career was killing penalties. However, in his three-plus years in Minnesota, Pominville’s only special teams work has come on the power play.
That could change this season.
Wild coach Bruce Boudreau has had Pominville killing penalties all training camp.
“It’s funny, but we’ve practiced that in practice and I thought he had a great stick and I went up and talked to him about how he killed in Buffalo,” Boudreau said last week. “If he’s not going to be on the power play, I want to get him more involved.”
With the Sabres, the former captain typically logged the most or near the most shorthanded minutes among forwards. In fact, he ranks sixth in Sabres history with 10 shorthanded goals, and that doesn’t include his most famous goal — an overtime series clincher while shorthanded that beat Ottawa in 2006. It’s the only time in NHL history that a series was ended by a shorthanded overtime goal.
But with the Wild, in 2013-14, he played 6 minutes, 23 seconds total of penalty-kill time in 82 games. It’s been less since. In 2014-15, Pominville played 1:59 in 82 games on the penalty kill, while last season it was only 31 seconds in 75 games.
“I played pretty much my whole time in Buffalo [on the penalty kill], and when I came here [in 2013], it kind of slipped away from me,” Pominville said. “Guys had different roles [under Mike Yeo]. If you were on PP, you didn’t really play much on the penalty kill, which was my case.
“But I’ve always liked to kill.”
There’s a chance Pominville won’t be full time on the power play. That’s because Boudreau likely will go with the Eric Staal line on one unit and Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund with Nino Niederreiter or Chris Stewart on the other. Pominville likes playing the point on the power play, but if Mike Reilly makes the team, defensemen Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Matt Dumba and Reilly are the likely point men.
“I’ve played there pretty much my whole career,” Pominville said. “But who knows? I’m not sure what’s going to happen and where I’ll be.”
Last season, the Wild’s penalty kill ranked 27th in the NHL, being scored on 22.1 percent of the time. So it may be good to get some different personnel on the penalty kill. Zach Parise was terrific on the penalty kill earlier in camp against Carolina, as was Staal and Pominville. Saturday, Boudreau even gave rookies Joel Eriksson Ek and Christoph Bertschy looks.
“I think [assistant coach Scott Stevens’] presence, too, will help us,” Pominville said. “His meetings have been really good, and his teachings have been awesome, and guys are pretty receptive because we know if we get better at that, it gives us a chance to win more games.”
Final moves in works
Opening night rosters must be submitted at 4 p.m. Tuesday, but Boudreau said final cuts could come as soon as Sunday.
The roster stands at 25 but can’t be more than 23.
The Wild is currently carrying three goalies, so Alex Stalock could be placed on waivers barring a trade of Darcy Kuemper, who was being shopped earlier in the summer.
The Wild also seems destined to release veteran Ryan Carter, who displaced a rib and has been dealing with a shoulder injury that may require surgery, from his tryout. The Wild also has to decide if it plans to keep eight defensemen.