As Zidlicky remains sidelined and rookies trade chances on the power play, Cam Barker steadily has been increasing his play, and deserves a shot to Quarterback the PP.
It’s now or never for Cam Barker. I feel like I’ve said it before, but as a Barker apologist I have to give him just one more chance. With Zidlicky out for what might be the rest of the season with a shoulder injury, Cam should get one more crack at what he was brought in here to do.
I was excited to see him on the team when he was traded for Kim Johnsson and Nick Leddy; he was advertised with a booming shot and a PP guy. Honestly, I was under the impression that Zidlicky would be moved at the deadline and Barker was in line to take his job at PP quarterback. When he scored in his first game for the team, against Luongo no less, I was ready to get my Barker jersey, but there was something missing: Barker’s emotion, and it was visible from that moment on. In his defense, he was just traded from the eventual Stanley Cup champions to the Minnesota Wild, I’d find it hard to get excited too: counter argument: He’s a professional athlete, play the game regardless.
I got the same impression at the end of the Wild’s 6-5 win over the Coyotes, except this time Barker cracked a smile. It’s not a 180, but it’s a start. Routine criticisms of his skating aside (and yes we all know he needs to fix it, it’s like he’s got damned cinder blocks for skates) You can’t say you don’t like his game right now, even if it’s just because his game before was, well crap. He’s starting to show the reasons we brought him here:
1) He’s getting physical: At 6’3" and about 215 pounds, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be throwing his weight around on the ice, he even nearly dropped the gloves a few games ago, I think the Wild thought they were getting a bigger, younger, physical Kim Johnsson and hopefully they were right.
2) Taking shots: Evidence: The Coyote game. Sure he was set up by PMB, but he used that cannon shot I loved in NHL 10...er Chicago. I notice that he’s a little shy when it comes to throwing the puck on net, and I wish that would change. I blame team mentality. There’s no reason he shouldn’t take a page from Burns’ book and start firing away, he and the team would benefit.
I don’t care if it makes me seem like I have a Brad Childress complex, I have to hold out hope that Barker has some talent that is ripe for molding, after all, my trade value meter on NHL 11 has him pretty high up (Barker and a 2nd rounder for Giroux, I’ll need your things out of my office by Monday, Mr. Fletcher). He’s a young guy struggling to find a role on a team that has gaping holes in more than one of them, cut him a break and give him a chance.
With Zids out, I’d like nothing more than to see if Cam can finally step up. However, its all about trust and confidence. The Wild don’t seem to have a whole lot of either for Barker right now unfortunately, and I don’t blame them. Maybe that Coyote goal the other night boosted his confidence? I thought the Burns - Barker pairing was pretty good last year, maybe put them back together, whatever Richards does, I’d just like to see him paired with someone who’s not a rookie until Marek Zidlicky is back. If things haven’t changed, by all means, trade him for a bag of pucks.