Now that we're no longer really a cycling team, we're a transition offense, there is less asked of the defense in terms of ground to cover. Whereas in previous seasons, defensemen would (more) routinely pinch down the boards and be involved lower and then have to track back and all that...we still have guys that pinch (every team does) but not to the same extent as years past (or so it seemed to me). Speaking to that point, think of the handedness of our pairings. Letang-Niskanen (RHS-RHS) and Orpik-Martin (LHS-LHS) in the top-four. Only one of those guys can reasonably pinch and be effective.
With that said, they could have dressed 7 anyhow and double-shifted, sure. It's not unreasonable even with my note above.
Crosby seemed to get doubled sometimes anyhow...his ice time went up (both ES and ATOI) but his SH time went slightly down in the playoffs. Malkin, I think, remained pretty much unchanged all the way around. But that can also be, in part, attributed to Crosby being a good faceoff taker while Malkin is not.
The question is trust, too, on the backend.
Simon Despres was not trusted...only a couple games, ice time plummeted in the playoffs. Engelland is just not a playoff-worthy player as I've said and the coaching staff/management confirm...2010: benched the entire playoffs, 2011: benched the entire playoffs, 2012: Ice time is significantly reduced. 2013: benched for half the playoffs. Douglas Murray's ice time was cut by more than 3 minutes per in the playoffs despite games being slightly longer on average.
So there is, what, our 5/6/7 guys, I guess throw Eaton in there too...he was trusted. They don't like them...they don't like two of them, they aren't gonna like three of them...ya know what I mean?
Hopefully the players "on the way" solve this soon...