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Updated: November 26th, 2013 7:28am
Zulgad: Was the quality sports viewing weekend bad to Minnesota teams?

Zulgad: Was the quality sports viewing weekend bad to Minnesota teams?

by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com

The past three days gave Minnesota sports fan an opportunity to judge their favorite teams against either quality competition or, if nothing else, a major rival.

The result of these tests turned out to be less than encouraging.

The Vikings, Wild, Timberwolves, Gophers football and Gophers men's basketball teams went a combined 1-5-1 from Saturday through Monday with the Wild's come-from-behind 3-2 shootout win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday serving as the only victory.

We can debate whether the Gophers' 20-7 loss to the Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium had some encouraging moments but that is, sadly, based largely on the fact that Jerry Kill's team did not get blown out.

Expectations for Gophers football are such that when the defense plays as well as it did Saturday and the score remains close, we come away encouraged. Think about it long enough and it will depress you, but it's a fact that Gophers football fans can find encouragement through results that would leave many discouraged.

There was no ray of hope about what happened Sunday afternoon in Green Bay. The Vikings were unable to hold onto a 23-7 fourth-quarter lead against an average to bad Packers team that was playing without Aaron Rodgers.

The fact the score ended up tied at 26-26 after 75 minutes was fitting. Reports from the visitor's locker room at Lambeau Field were that some players seemed fine with the result and others looked at the blown lead and did the right thing by considering it to be a defeat.

The problem is it wasn't a loss and thus could have a negative impact on the Vikings' draft position this spring.

But at least there was only one Minnesota team that could let fans down on Sunday. On Monday, we were presented with the hat trick of defeat.

The Gophers basketball team lost, 75-67, to eighth-ranked Syracuse in their opening game of the Maui Invitational in Hawaii. At least, new coach Richard Pitino's team proved to be a far more entertaining watch than anything Tubby Smith had put on the court and, for only the second time this season, we actually got to see the Gophers on television.

Witnessing forward Joey King diving all over the floor, despite recently having had surgery for a fractured jaw, was enough to keep you glued to the TV.

The same couldn't be said of the two professional teams playing on the road.

The Wolves proved to be no match for Indiana, losing 98-84 to the Pacers (13-1). The fact the Wolves couldn't beat Indiana shouldn't have been a surprise, but it's becoming clear that it's going to take some time before we know what to make of this team.

The Wolves crushed the shorthanded Brooklyn Nets on Friday at Target Center but then lost 112-101 on Saturday at Houston. Rick Adelman's team is now 8-8 and appears to lack the necessary depth that is required for consistent success during the grind of an NBA season.

Any chance that Derrick Williams, the second-overall pick in 2011, would contribute appeared to end Monday night when reports surfaced that the Wolves were set to send the forward to Sacramento in return for sixth-year small forward Luc Mbah a Moute.

The Wolves, like the Gophers football program, have been down for so long (nine consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance) that the temptation is to take even the slightest sign of progress and run with it.

That might be a mistake, no matter how good Kevin Love plays at times.

The Wolves might not be a sure thing, but the Wild certainly should be, right?

Problem is anyone who watched the first period of the St. Louis Blues' 3-0 victory over Minnesota on Monday wouldn't have had any problem identifying which team looked dominant.

The Blues dominated on face offs, played keep away with the puck and finished with a 12-4 advantage in shots on goal en route to taking a 2-0 lead. The Wild attempted to rally in the third and badly outshot St. Louis, 12-1, but the Blues were playing prevent defense by that point.

The loss left the Blues one point behind first place Chicago (38 points) in the Central Division. Colorado is third with 17 victories and 34 points and the Wild is fourth with 15 wins and 34 points.

The Wild's issue, if and when it gets to the postseason, is that the Blackhawks and Blues will be extremely tough to get through.

Mike Yeo's team has a far bigger concern right now than worrying about potential playoff opponents. Goalie Josh Harding, who has been brilliant this season, suffered a hamstring injury during pregame warm-ups on Saturday in Winnipeg and was unavailable in St. Louis.

Center Mikael Granlund, who has been the Wild's most improved player this season, missed a second consecutive game because of an upper-body injury.

Those two injuries, however, might not hold a candle to the one suffered Monday.

In the first period, Wild forward Zach Parise injured his left foot blocking a shot by the Blues' Alexander Steen. Parise attempted to return in the second period but eventually left the ice for good.

The Star Tribune reported the Wild star said he'll know more about the injury on Tuesday. Until then, Minnesota hockey fans should be holding their collective breath. Parise leads the Wild with 22 points in 25 games and is second to Jason Pominville with 11 goals.

The two players this team can't afford to lose for any length of time would be Parise or defenseman Ryan Suter.

Take one or both out of the lineup for an extended period and the Xcel Energy Center might be a very lonely place this spring.

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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