Posted 9:02 AM ET | Comments 0
In last night's 3-2 shootout loss to San Jose, Denis Savard made a real head-scratcher of a decision, sending out Cam Barker as the Hawks' shooter on a do or die try in the shootout.
If he made it, the Hawks' stayed alive for another round; if he didn't, they lost. And he was sent out ahead of Tuomo Ruutu, Martin St. Pierre and Yanic Perreault.
He didn't make it. And a lot of Hawk fans are asking why he was sent out at all in that situation.
It's a valid question. My personal take on it is Savard wanted to reward the young defenseman for arguably his best night as a pro. Also, seeing Barker's obvious confidence throughout the game, why not take a chance on him in the shootout? Now, had I been behind the Hawks' bench, I would have sent out Ruutu. But I wasn't. And the Hawks aren't going to the playoffs anyway. So it doesn't matter.
What does matter is the performance Barker gave yesterday in all facets of the game. He not only looked like a legit NHL defenseman, he looked like a good one. A leader. And a player the Hawks might not want to part with leading up to February 26.
Granted he wasn't perfect. He's still a bit tentative at times, especially in the first period last night. But you could almost see his confidence rise throughout the game. He looked good on the left point on the power play in periods two and three. Hard, fast shots into screens (one of which led to a goal by Pat Sharp), quick passes, good decisions.
He is one of the Hawks' better defenseman as far as positioning in his own end and starting the break-out. And he made some good plays in the neutral zone last night to stymie some Shark rushes.
Should Dale Tallon suspend his search for another top four defenseman who can run the power play because of last night's effort from Barker? Not yet. But more of that kind of play over the next 24 days could keep the big kid from Winnipeg in the Indianhead next year amd perhaps beyond.