I don't know what exactly it means to "play favorites" in that sense. The people who he "favors" and therefore get the extra ice are, in my opinion, the best players for those situations. I don't see it as "playing favorites" as much as putting the right people on the ice. Are AA, Step and Gaborik not the most dynamic scoring forwards? AA and Step weren't first line players last year but now they are, is that favoritism or the fact that they're playing really well? McD wasn't a first pairing guy but Staal goes out and he comes in - is he Torts' favorite? Maybe, but he's also the best D man for that position and he's more than earned his time.
So, to answer, no I don't. I think, this season at least, those who play the most do so because they're the best and those who sit do so because they haven't earned a spot.
I can see that logic and agree with you. I will say that this season I agree with that statement more than the past 2, but that may because as talent has been added, the job has gotten a bit easier.