Drive to the Net: Matheson-Marino pairing intriguing ... but also scary

PITTSBURGH — The Penguins appear to have their top two defense pairings set as they approach their opening night matchup next Tuesday night in Tampa.

While it remains to be seen who will ride shotgun with Marcus Pettersson on the third pairing, Mike Sullivan is sure to preserve the long-time duo of Brian Dumoulin and Kris Letang (who skated nearly 29 minutes Wednesday in a preseason shootout victory over the Sabres), and all signs point to a somewhat new partnership of Mike Matheson and John Marino as the next tier.

The top pairing is sure to take care of business, even if they might not be quite as effective as they were years ago, but there is reason to raise a caution flag for the presumed Matheson-Marino pairing.

In theory, they seem like a perfect fit. Matheson plays must-watch hockey, as you never know whether he will carry the puck end-to-end, or turn the puck over for an odd-man rush against in the process of doing so. Marino had incredible defensive impacts as a rookie and, though his sophomore season was a slight step backward, there is every reason to believe he will remain a steady defensive defenseman going forward.

CLICK HERE to read more from our partners at