by: Rich Miller (@pensbender)
It’s generally accepted that the Pens have no bottom-six. Well, technically they have a bottom-six. They have guys who are not on the top-two lines who go out on the ice and skate around, but they have no identity and most nights seemingly don’t have a purpose besides killing time until the top-six is ready to go back out.
Yesterday, James Mirtle wrote an article for the Toronto Globe And Mail talking about the Leafs short bench. To support his article, he provided a data set of line usage by average TOI for each NHL team. As expected, the Pens line usage is pretty interesting.
Here is the main data set:
Not surprising that the top-line is seeing serious minutes. The second line is also in the top-ten with about 17 minutes per night. But look at the third line, only Vancouver uses their third line less than the Penguins.
Some more proof of how top-heavy the Pens are, here are the minutes for lines 1 & 2 combined:
Only Vancouver, Toronto, and Edmonton use their top-six more than the Penguins.
A lot of people are worried that Dan Bylsma may be burning out Marc-Andre Fleury –who likely isn’t going to the Olympics in Sochi and therefore will receive almost a month off of action. If anything perhaps they should be worried about the top-six wearing down as four of them will actually be playing in February.
There’s no question the bottom-six in general needs help, and hopefully Shero makes a move there that will allow Bylsma to trust them more. This of course would obviously take some of the load off the top-six. Man how things have changed since Cooke-Staal-Kennedy.