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Pominville excited to spend time among All-Stars

by Mike G. Morreale

NEWARK, N.J. -- Despite the fact Buffalo Sabres captain Jason Pominville is in the midst of the most trying season of his career, he's certainly proven himself worthy to skate alongside the best the League has to offer at the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa on Sunday.
Pominville has notched at least one point in 34 of Buffalo's 49 games this season on the way to leading the team in assists (30) and points (47). Buffalo is 11-4-0 this season when Pominville scores a goal, and he's been held pointless in consecutive games only twice this season.
And now he's ecstatic to be playing in his first All-Star Game.
"It should be a fun weekend," Pominville told "Obviously, being a part of it for the first time should be interesting. My parents, who live in Montreal, will be able to come down and see the game, and my wife and few friends will be there. It's even more so for them than me."
Pominville said he's looking forward to meeting and chatting with all the All-Stars.

"I think meeting the guys and playing the actual game ... being able to be in the locker room and talk to a few guys and see what they have to say is going to be great." -- Jason Pominville

"I think meeting the guys and playing the actual game ... being able to be in the locker room and talk to a few guys and see what they have to say is going to be great," Pominville said. "Obviously, the skill competition should be something that is pretty neat, too."
Ah, the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL Skills Competition. Does the 29-year-old have a preference for a particular event?
"I think the breakaway relay," he said. "Really, though, I have no idea, it doesn't matter. I know the breakaway is easy, so that would be something I wouldn't mind doing. I don't know if I'd fit in well with fastest skater or hardest shot."
Pominville is 2-for-4 in shootouts this season, including one against New Jersey Devils veteran Martin Brodeur on Tuesday that sent the tiebreaker into a fourth round. The Sabres would ultimately win the game 2-1.
The shootout goal certainly was clutch for Pominville and his teammates.
"It's not the easiest thing to go in there to score to keep it going, but I was able to do it," Pominville said. "I'm just glad I was able to give us a chance."
Pominville and rookie Luke Adam, who was named a rookie All-Star, will be representing the Sabres in Ottawa. Both players will participate in the skills competition Jan. 28, while only Pominville will play in the All-Star Game on Jan. 29.


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"Maybe the accuracy shooting is more my speed," Pominville said with a grin. "Hey, I wouldn't mind doing the passing to the accurate shooter."
But in a season that hasn't quite gone according to plan, the All-Star Game just might be the reprieve Pominville needs before gearing up for the second half of the season. He knows it won't be easy. The Sabres enter the All-Star break 14th in the Eastern Conference after having lost five of their last six games.
"It's been tough not only for me, but for everyone here," Pominville said. "You take a lot of pride in your play and preparing yourself to win every game and to be sharp. It's been a tough year with injuries and struggling to score goals offensively. We're not playing as well and as consistent as we did the second part of last year. But we're hoping to turn it around."
Pominville feels his team needs to play fast, furious and with a little desperation at times.
"I think we have a pretty fast team, but at times we play the game slow, where we've slowed things down, and that doesn't fall into our style of play," Pominville said. "The way we want to play and with the way teams backcheck, it's causing us trouble to create offensively. But if you have the speed and keep it north-south, you'll probably end up playing the game a lot quicker. We've gotten away from that and that's not the way we want to play."
If the Sabres can't get their ship turned around in the second half, the future of general manager Darcy Regier and coach Lindy Ruff could be in question. That also could lead to potential trades leading up to the Feb. 27 trade deadline, and Pominville realizes that.
"We have Lindy's back," Pominville said. "He's an elite coach in this League and that's why he's been in the League for so long."
Since Ruff was named Buffalo's coach in 1997, there have been 170 coaching changes in the NHL. He has 545 wins, the second-most by a coach with a single franchise. He trails only Al Arbour (740).
"We've had a lot of discussions and lot of meetings on ways to try and play better," Pominville said. "I thought we did a better job defending and not giving (the Devils) as many opportunities as we did in the past on the rush. It's a good way to go into the All-Star break with a win and maybe put a smile on everyone's face."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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