Trending up: Cedric Paquette, Tampa Bay Lightning -- The 21-year-old forward, called up by the Lightning in October, notched his first NHL hat trick in the Bolts' 5-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night, a game that Tampa head coach Jon Cooper eyed as a good measuring stick for his young club. Paquette has four goals in his past two games, a nice outburst following a 29-game slump that has dragged on since November.
Trending down: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins -- Granted, Crosby is still the greatest player in the game. And yes, he’s coming back from a lower-body injury that he was likely battling through before getting some time off during the All-Star break. But No. 87 has been held off the score sheet for three straight games. What would be considered a minor blip for others is a more glaring lack of production for the prolific scorer. In Wednesday’s 4-0 shutout loss to the Washington Capitals, Crosby also lost 17 of 24 faceoffs.
Surprise of the Week: Barclay Goodrow, San Jose Sharks -- The third-liner delivered a fine effort in the Sharks' decisive 6-3 effort against the league-leading Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, finishing with a goal and an assist, as well as four hits in 14:38 in ice time. Both Goodrow and linemate James Sheppard did some quality work for the Sharks, particularly in a five-goal second period that broke the Ducks’ willpower.
Trending up: John Klingberg, Dallas Stars -- Klingberg continues to be one of the most promising rookies to watch this season, as he continues to mature on Dallas’ blue line. The 22-year-old snapped a 3-3 draw with an unassisted goal in the third period after recording an assist on Jamie Benn's power-play goal earlier in the game. With 20 points in 34 games this season, Klingberg is second among rookie defensemen in scoring behind Florida's Aaron Ekblad.
Trending down: Nikita Zadorov, Buffalo Sabres -- Not too much sunshine in Buffalo these days, so we don’t blame Zadorov for jetting off to the Dominican Republic with his girlfriend for the All-Star break. But the young defenseman made a major travel miscue in failing to get back on time and missing the team’s first practice Monday. Coach Ted Nolan suspended Zadorov, who missed Tuesday’s game against Calgary and sat again Thursday night against Edmonton.
Surprise of the week: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes -- There’s no surprise that the young Swede is among the top blueliners in the NHL, but his goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Arizona Coyotes’ 3-1 win Thursday night earns him a spot in this category. Five seconds into the third period, Ekman-Larsson sailed an innocuous shot from his own blue line and caught Toronto’s Jonathan Bernier by surprise, knotting the game at 1 (shorthanded, no less) in the most Leafs-esque thing to happen this week.
Trending up: Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens -- Price continues to assert his dominance against the New York Rangers, recording his sixth career shutout against the Blueshirts on Thursday at Madison Square Garden. Price turned away all 24 shots faced in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference finals for his third shutout of the season. Makes you wonder how things might have worked out differently had Price been healthy for that series last spring ...
Trending down: Ilya Bryzgalov, Anaheim Ducks -- With so much to like about the way the league-leading Ducks are playing these days, goaltending remains a major concern, and Bryzgalov does not seem to be the answer. In his fourth start of the season, Bryz was pulled in the second period after coughing up six goals on 25 shots. That leaves him with a 1-3-0 record this season and an unsightly .832 save percentage and 4.68 goals-against average.
Surprise of the week: Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild -- We will admit that, like Bryzgalov in Anaheim, we have been skeptical that Dubnyk is the answer in net for the Minnesota Wild. But credit is due to the lanky netminder, who posted his second shutout since being acquired by general manager Chuck Fletcher. Most recently, Dubnyk blanked the Calgary Flames in Minny’s 1-0 victory, stopping all 30 shots he faced. If the Wild’s luck is going to turn, Dubnyk will have to continue playing a major role between the pipes.