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X-Factor: Pominville

by Mike G. Morreale / Minnesota Wild

Veteran forward Jason Pominville spent nearly eight seasons of his career in the National Hockey League hoping to rekindle some magic with the Buffalo Sabres in their quest for that elusive Stanley Cup trophy.

Now he has a similar goal with the Minnesota Wild, a team that qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in five seasons by winning its final game of the season to outlast the hard-charging Columbus Blue Jackets.

It's no easy task, but Pominville, the former captain of the Sabres, possesses an energy and infectious spirit that has already rubbed off on his new teammates. There is some concern about the hit to the head Pominville took from Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown on April 23, but the hope is he will not be sidelined too long. In fact, he may be ready for Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

The timing of his acquisition was impeccable; forward Dany Heatley would go down with a season-ending shoulder injury less than 24 hours after general manager Chuck Fletcher traded for Pominville.

When healthy, Pominville helped elevate a line with Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Kyle Brodziak.

"He's a guy that, right from the start, really embraced himself in the way we want to play the game," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "I think that by him going out and really buying into the way we want to play, has really helped him fit in with the rest of the group and have some success here early."

Yeo shifted the 30-year-old right wing around while his team was battling for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, but Pominville wasn't fazed by it all, maintaining that level of play that was expected when Fletcher acquired him in a deal that sent two prospects and two draft picks to the Sabres.

Pominville said it doesn't matter where Yeo plays him, so long as he's able to contribute to the team's success.

"If we need a goal, I can be on the ice for that, if we've got to prevent a goal at the end of the game, I can be on the ice for that," Pominville told the Pioneer Press. "I think it's just being a reliable guy at both ends of the rink."

Author: Mike G. Morreale | Staff Writer

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