By Allan Muir
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• A month ago, the Minnesota Wild stood atop the Northwest Division standings, but a 4-9-1 April has them on the brink of disaster. They played like a team with a non-refundable tee time in last night's 6-1 loss to the Oilers. Drop the finale tonight in Denver and it's time to dust off the clubs. Guessing coach Mike Yeo wouldn't survive that.
• Not that it matters much right now, but the Wild have a pair of legitimate contenders for postseason hardware.
• No link here, just an explanation of how it works tonight: Detroit wins in Dallas, they're in the playoffs. Minnesota wins in Denver, they're in. Columbus...they need help. If they win in Nashville and Detroit loses in regulation, they're in. If they win in regulation, any loss by Minnesota (regulation, OT, shootout) and they're in. If they lose in OT or the shootout, and the Wild lose in regulation, they're in. Got it?
• Brian Burke is suing online commenters who suggested his firing from the Leafs was due to an extramarital affair. This one is going to have a fascinating effect on the keyboard courage that too many people are infused with.
• Tonight's game against the Wild is expected to be the last one for Colorado veteran Milan Hejduk. Accolades will be forthcoming.
• Detroit's second line has come to life at a most opportune time. With seven goals in his last seven games, Johan Franzen is leading the trio that may determine Detroit's playoff fate tonight in Dallas.
• Mike Heika points out that, despite a late-season winning streak, the numbers don't add up for the Stars. Apparently the Stars are big believers in Fenwick and Corsi, a revelation that will bring great amusement to some around the team.
• Ken Dryden on Boston. ‘Nuff said.
• Here's the great Roy MacGregor, with another must-read. This time, on the unlikely comeback of Erik Karlsson.
• Sean Gordon offers some insights into the challenges facing Carey Price.
• Veteran scribe Pat Hickey explains why his Hart Trophy vote went to Alex Ovechkin over Sidney Crosby.
• Nothing like a timely "hey, we might be changing our historic uniforms when we move to Brooklyn" story to get Isles fans pumped up for the playoffs.
• Now that the crushing disappointment of the 2013 season is behind them the Flames can focus on one of the biggest offseasons in franchise history.
• Sabres' vet Jochen Hecht announced his retirement after last night's 2-1 shootout win over the Isles. It might have been the last time Buffalo starts Ryan Miller as well. He listed his house for sale, sparking rumors that he's on his way out.
• The roster for Team USA at the upcoming World Championships is slowly coming together after a couple of key adds on Friday. • If you're not already a fan of Kevin Bieksa, you will be after you read this. Not sure it's enough to win him the Masterton, but he certainly qualifies as a quality human.