Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
Current Status: The San Jose Sharks are flying high. They're sixth overall with 172 goals and fifth best in goals allowed with 140. In terms of the underlying analytics, their possession percentage of 54.5 percent is third-best in the NHL, according to the data at Extra Skater.
Thanks to their great two-way play, and a league-best 13-6 record in post-regulation play, the Sharks have the seventh-best winning percentage in the NHL, and a four to eight percent chance of capturing their first Stanley Cup.
Greatest Strength: San Jose is a team of many strengths, the greatest of which is their tremendous strength down the middle. The Sharks have built their lineup around a wealth of well-rounded, skill-based, two-way centers who help unleash the full potential of each of their lines.
The Sharks' captain and leading scorer Joe Thornton, for starters, is one of this generation's greatest playmakers, and is currently one back of the league lead in assists with 48.
Underrated superstar Joe Pavelski's 29 goals are tied for third in the NHL, as are his 10 goals on the power play and his 19.0 shooting percentage.
Logan Couture (who is currently out with a hand injury) centers one of the league's best two-way shutdown lines, feeding most of Patrick Marleau's 202 shots, which are fifth-most in the NHL.
Even fourth-liner Andrew Desjardins finds ways of contributing, winning 55.7 percent of his faceoffs and personally drawing 20 of the team's 210 power play opportunities, fourth-most in the NHL. As a team they've allowed only 149 power play opportunities, fewest in the league, for a spectacular +61 team power-play differential.
All together, San Jose's pivots are sporting a 53.2 percent faceoff percentage, second to only the Los Angeles Kings. This is a deep and outstanding team down the middle.
Biggest Weakness: There are goalies who can play every game without rest while providing consistently competitive goaltending, but Antti Niemi isn't one of them.
Niemi, whose 48 games leads the league and who is leading the league in minutes played for the second straight season, hasn't always been the model of consistency. Only once in his last seven starts did he stop at least a league average number of shots. His overall .912 save percentage is 18th among the 25 netminders with at least 30 starts this year.
Perhaps Niemi's workload is too heavy, having played in 91 of San Jose's 107 games over the past two seasons. If so, using Alex Stalock more frequently is an option, having earned shutouts in two of his seven starts this season, where he has posted a combined 1.26 goals-against average.
Granted, Stalock had only 72 minutes of NHL experience going into this season, and a mediocre .909 AHL save percentage, but if the Sharks don't have confidence in him, they should take advantage of the trade deadline to find someone in which they do.