As always, looking at numbers can only tell you so much. It's just raw data. The reason to look at them is because our brains aren't built for optimizing calculation. They're built for optimizing intuition. Don't believe me? Just ask Lee Sedol who battled hard to fight a computer that could calculate 10,000 different Go positions per second.
Remembering that a player "looked good" only reflects what information your memory decided to prioritize. It doesn't reflect whether they were actually "good". Just the same, a convenient little label reading "CF%" doesn't reflect actual analysis. It just reflects one aspect of analysis. The trick, as it's always been, is to parse context through different levels.
Let's start with Sean Tierney's chart. These are pretty straightforward. Colors represent time on ice. Red equals less. Blue equals more. Gradients represent degree. The numbers in parenthesis are individual shot attempts.
So a player like Colton Sceviour deserves a special nod because he had limited ice time at even strength, but managed five shots on his own, right on par with Valeri Nichushkin and Patrick Sharp who had slightly more time on ice. They ended up being the most effective trio by far per Corsica Hockey in Game 2.
These snippets display their Corsi numbers on the right, and ice time on the left (purple numbers on the bottom are for when they're on ice for a goal). The trio spent the bulk of their time with the more offensively inclined defensive pairs of AlexGoligoski-John Klingberg, and Kris Russell-Jason Demers. Lindy Ruff kept them away from Charlie Coyle, Jared Spurgeon in particular. The end result is that, as you can see below, the Brodin/Scandella pair took it in the chin:
Micah McCurdy's work at Hockeyviz helps visualize the data, so here's a quick breakdown of each player's respective shifts.
Basically, Spezza's line wasn't even sheltered on top of their dominance. Ruff plays Faksa like a zone specialist (and certainly not sheltered), and Russell and Demers got the toughest zone starts. Per DTM bout Heart, shot quality was fairly even. Bigger size equates to better quality (larger xG), squares represent even strength shots, and triangles represent special teams shots.
Kari Lehtonen had to be sharp, and he was. Dallas has a set of lines they can roll for different situations. The Wild are kind of screwed here thanks to their injuries, but being healthy wouldn't change much given the possession dominance Dallas has displayed up and down the lineup.
There are still some issues. Tyler Seguin, for example, seemed marginally ready to play last night. His speed was limited, and the injury seemed to linger, creating a rift in the usually (and shockingly) reliable Benn-Eakin-Seguin trio, who all season long posted a CF Percent of 55.67 at even strength together (good for 8th among all Dallas trios with at least 50 minutes of ice time together).
Still, it's nice to know that Dallas has the potential to get a little bit better as the postseason wears on. After all, Seguin will get healthier. But it's also important to keep in mind competition. Dallas shouldn't be looking ahead, they as long as they concentrate on quality of habit, the quality of competition won't suddenly derail their strong possession play.