With Niklas Backstrom dinged up according to coach Todd Richards, Jose Theodore, who's won 14 games this season as Backstrom's backup, will start the Wild's 5 p.m. CT season finale against the Dallas Stars.

The game means nothing in terms of the standings at least for the Wild, but it could mean everything to the Stars.

At 11:30 a.m. CT, the Chicago Blackhawks, who clobbered Detroit two nights ago, host the Red Wings (NBC). If the Blackhawks lose in regulation, a Stars win in regulation/overtime/shootout would give Dallas a playoff berth and eliminate Chicago.

So the Stars, who did not come down to the X this morning for a meeting or skate, will know before this afternoon's final game of the NHL season if they have a shot at a playoff berth or if their season ends tonight.

This game does have a lot of meaning for several in the Wild organization.

With the Wild not making the postseason, several changes could happen this summer in terms of free agents being let go, trades or coaching staff dismissals.

Also, the Wild simply wants to make one final good statement in front of the disappointed hometown fans. They don't want to lay an egg obviously. It was interesting: Even the Oilers fans serenaded the 30th-place Oilers with a standing O after their home finale loss to Minnesota two nights ago.

Same lineup for the Wild tonight, meaning John Madden's career may be over. Madden has told the Star Tribune that if he doesn't re-sign with the Wild, he will likely retire. Madden won't play again with a foot injury.

Madden, by the way, didn't attend last night's Michigan loss to UMD in the national championship because his son was sick. But Eric Nystrom, a former Wolverine, did and sat smack in the middle of the Michigan section.

Heck of an exciting win by the Bulldogs. I was here but not working, so I got to watch the UMD postgame press conference without any time restrictions. After all, I wasn't on deadline. What a pleasure to watch, especially well-spoken Kyle Schmidt, who scored the winner. He was hilarious in the postgame, and there were several funny, touching moments.

Justin Fontaine is a free agent, and the Wild may have interest. He attended last year's development camp and the Wild likes him. He didn't do much last night, but JT Brown did. I'd assume he returns to school, but in a year, he may be as hotly contested as Casey Wellman and Stephane Da Costa.

He's got a lot of will and speed and skill. He was all over the ice last night.

Here's the Bulldogs posing for their postgame picture (from press box)



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