Penguins already relying too much on Top Four D Pairings?

Big-time read here from Seth at Empty Netters:


If you look at the Penguins' time on ice for their defensemen, the top four blue liners are also their top four options for killing penalties:

Players Overall
Ice Time
Ice Time
Kris Letang 26:17 3:24
Paul Martin 24:08 4:36
Brooks Orpik 23:19 5:50
Matt Niskanen 20:40 2:35
Deryk Engelland 10:13 0:35
Simon Despres 9:57 0:17

To really drive the point home, look at Matt Niskanen's last season graph via Dobber Hockey:


This season's small sampling:

Those two extra minutes that Seth documented above add up.

The real problem is caused by the now departed Zbynek Michalek. This graph will make you shiver:

As the season goes on, it is going to be interesting to see how the Penguins handle these minutes. Letang is already up 2+ minutes. Last year he was on the ice for 30% of the time the Pens were shorthanded. Michalek was on the ice 65%. The stat is still a small sample, but we'll revist it in 20 games and most likely see Letang's shorthanded time rise to 40%. Yikes.