ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Wild will be without one of their most playoff-seasoned players when they face the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night in the first game of a best-of-seven series.
Minnesota coach Mike Yeo announced Tuesday that forward Jason Pominville, a key pickup for the Wild at the trade deadline, will be held out of the series opener against top-seeded Chicago. Pominville, who has four goals and five assists in 10 games with Minnesota, hasn’t played since taking an elbow to the face from Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown on April 23.
Pominville returned to practice Monday in Minnesota but was held out of the morning skate Tuesday in Chicago.
Yeo said Pominville is “just not quite ready.”
“This is a big game,” Yeo added, “but you’ve got to look at the big picture and we have to make sure that when we get him back in, we get him back in for good.”
Pominville will miss his third game since being hurt against Los Angeles. Brown wasn’t penalized on the play but later was suspended by the league for two games.
Pominville had returned on a line with Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Kyle Brodziak during Monday’s practice. Cal Clutterbuck reportedly was skating with Bouchard and Brodziak on Tuesday. Center Zenon Konopka likely would take Pominville’s place in the lineup and center the fourth line with Mike Rupp and Torrey Mitchell.
Pominville is one of the few players on the young Wild with playoff experience, an added bonus for Minnesota as it faces the Blackhawks, who won the Presidents’ Trophy for having the league’s best regular-season record.
“Well, he’s a big part of our team in a lot of areas,” Yeo said. “Obviously, the offensive threat that he is, smart player, plays in all situations for us. … And as much as anything else, the experience that he has in the playoffs and his leadership, obviously is a big part of our team.”
The second game of the series is Friday in Chicago, which will give Pominville extra time to possibly make a return.