The Week in Sports
It's not like anybody was expecting anything from the T-wolves this season, but, wow, they are playing poorly. Now the losers of a dry-heave-inducing EIGHT consecutive losses, the Wolves are 1-8 with only one loss fewer than the first-season Oklahoma City Thunder who are 1-9. And who did the Thunder beat to earn that lone victory?
Minnesota. What makes their play so frustrating, though, is that when they build a lead, as they did last night against Denver, they collapse at the end. As the Strib's Jerry Zgoda notes, going into Sunday's game, the Timberwolves had blown double-digit leads in four of the previous six games. It's now been two and a half weeks since the Wolves won.
In another downer, the Twins got some bad offseason news this week when it was announced that Pat Neshek, the set-up man with the goofy delivery, will have Tommy John surgery and miss all of the 2009 season. Ouch. The Twins struggled with middle relief all last season and were counting on Neshek to return healthy. Lame.
The Vikings succeeded at not having sole possession of first place in the NFC Central this week in Tampa Bay. In a game they probably should have won, the Purple were up by a touchdown at the half, then watched as the game, and TB's wily QB, Jeff Garcia, slip through their fingers. On a final drive late in the fourth quarter, Chester Taylor fumbled, the Bucs fell on it, and Vikings wedged themselves into a three-way tie for first place in the division at 5-5. Oddly, this bunch at the top could leave the lowly Detroit Lions (0-10) in the position to crown the division champs by knocking off Minnesota on Dec. 14, and Green Bay to close out the season on Dec. 28.
The Gophers football team disappointed for the third straight week. In Madison to win back Paul Bunyan's ax, the Gophers lost a 14-point lead going into the second half, tarnishing whatever luster remained from the season's early success. But there is happier news from Goldy country. The men's hockey team remained undefeated this weekend. After tying Michigan Tech on Saturday, Gophers goalie Alex Kangas turned in an awesome performance on Sunday, earning his first career shutout 3-0 at Mariucci Arena.
The women's soccer team, already Big Ten champs, earned their first appearance in the NCAA soccer tournament's Sweet 16, after beating South Dakota State 2-0 on Sunday. Now the real work begins: Minnesota heads to South Bend, Ind. to face the top-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The victory was goalie Lindsey Dare's 17th shutout of the season, a Big Ten record.
Finally, there was more good news from the Wild, the NHL's little beat up team that could. The Wild racked up two more wins this week. On Thursday, goalie Niklas Backstrom shutout the Phoenix Coyotes 4-0. On Friday, the Columbus Blue Jackets gave the Wild as much as they could handle forcing OT, and an eventual Minnesota triumph in a shootout, keeping them atop the northwest division.
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