The Week In Sports

The Vikings got both good news and bad news this week. They're sending six players to this year's Pro Bowl. That's impressive given their so-so play for most of the season. In fact, that play returned yesterday when the Vikings' fate was in their own hands: A win would have sent them to the playoffs, and a loss would force them to hope for a Bears' loss tonight. And... they blew it to the Atlanta Falcons. The Vikes fumbled an astounding seven times, and awarded the Falcons a playoff berth. The parallels to the Vikings 1998 season are just too obvious to make. The Vikings can still make the playoffs, all is not lost, but in order for that to happen the Vikings need to either beat the New York Giants in the final game of the season or the Bears need to lose one of their final two games against the Packers and the Texans.

New head coach Kevin McHale still has yet to guide the T-Wolves to victory. Saturday saw the Wolves go down to the Houston Rockets 109-102, stretching the Wolves' losing streak to a dozen. And although Minnesota showed signs of life during the game, their failure to close the game strong sealed their fate once again.

Continuing on this losing theme, things keep getting worse for the Wild. The Wild were sharp in their overtime loss to Calgary on Wednesday in a game that saw the return of star scorer Marian Gaborik. It was the Wild's first point since the first week of December. They followed that with a convincing victory over the New York Islanders who own the worst record in the NHL at 10-20-3, finally ending a painful six-game losing streak. Then things took a turn for the pathetic on Saturday, when the Wild went to St. Louis to take on the worst team in the Western Conference. The Blues kept themselves up throughout most of the game, before defenseman Roman Polak scored the game-winner with 2:51 left in the third period. Mercifully, the Wild have a light week, only one game at home against Carolina on Tuesday, then four days off to lick their wounds and come up with a strategy to find their rhythm again.

In non-Wild related hockey news, the NHL and NBC announced that teams will switch sides during the middle of the third period during the Winter Classic outdoors at Wrigley Field on New Year's Day to prevent either side from benefiting from wind. In the second annual outdoor game, the Detroit Redwings will visit the Chicago Blackhawks. Last year more than 70,000 fans braved th elements in Buffalo to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Sabers 2-1 in a shootout. Check out the highlights below.

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