Trending up: Rick Nash, New York Rangers -- The 30-year-old star winger sure is making a case for himself in the Hart Trophy conversation. Putting the Rangers on his shoulders, Nash notched his league-leading 32nd goal of the season Wednesday night in the Blueshirts' 3-2 victory against the Boston Bruins. Nash, who is on pace to score 53 goals, has four in the past three games. His two-point performance came in handy Wednesday, particularly with the absence of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (neck) looming large.
Trending down: Evander Kane, Winnipeg Jets -- Wow, what a turn of events for the talented young star, who was put on injured reserve Thursday after no shortage in drama earlier in the week. Kane was a healthy scratch in Tuesday's game against his hometown Vancouver Canucks, a surprising move that triggered frenzied speculation. Multiple reports surfaced Thursday suggesting that Kane had both violated the team's dress code and missed the team bus and pregame meeting following an incident with teammates before the game. His future with the Jets looks tenuous, at best. The subsequent announcement on Friday that Kane will have shoulder surgery and be sidelined for four to six months just added further to his wild week.
Surprise of the week: Brandon Pirri, Florida Panthers -- It wasn’t long ago that the 23-year-old was watching games from the press box as a healthy scratch, but Pirri has been on an absolute tear lately. With his goal in the Panthers’ 3-2 win over Los Angeles, he has scored in four straight and six of his last seven games.
Trending up: Trevor Daley, Dallas Stars -- Though rookie blueliner John Klingberg has garnered most of the hype when it comes to the Dallas defense, the 31-year-old Daley is having an impact on the Stars’ back end, as well. Daley notched his 13th goal of the season in the Stars’ 5-3 loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday and has five points in the last four games.
Trending down: Lubomir Visnovsky, New York Islanders -- Islanders coach Jack Capuano decided to scratch the veteran defenseman in the team’s most recent game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night, opting for Brian Strait instead. Visnovsky has been hampered by injuries this season, and he struggled in the team’s 4-2 loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, when he was a minus-2 in 20:50 of ice time.
Surprise of the week: Nick Schultz, Philadelphia Flyers -- When Flyers GM Ron Hextall signed Schultz as an unrestricted free agent last summer, it was regarded as a low-risk, cost-effective move to add a depth defenseman. Schultz has more than proved his worth, showing he can be a regular contributor to Philly’s blue line. Schultz has two goals in the last three games, and the Flyers have begun preliminary contract discussions with him regarding an extension.
Trending up: Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals -- After a brief skid at the end of January, the Capitals appear to have regrouped and gotten back on track. Holtby continues to be a steadying presence for Washington, which has rattled off two straight wins. Holtby recorded his career-high 25th win of the season Thursday night, turning away 26 of 27 shots, just two nights after posting a 27-save shutout against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings.
Trending down: Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings -- It's odd that we’ve put the former Conn Smythe Trophy winner in this category multiple times this season, but that’s the sort of year Quick is having. He’s not alone -- the entire Kings squad is floundering -- but Quick can expect more needling from coach Darryl Sutter, who has been harshly critical of his goaltender in the past. Quick has been saddled with three straight losses and has surrendered nine goals during that span.
Surprise of the week: Petr Mrazek, Detroit Red Wings -- With Jimmy Howard sidelined, Mrazek has proved to be the same sort of top prospect the Detroit Red Wings have managed to churn out year after year. The young Czech goaltender recorded his first shutout of the season Thursday, blanking the Colorado Avalanche 4-0 in a 28-save performance that allowed the Wings to keep cruising without their injured All-Star netminder. Mrazek is now 12-4-1 overall this season.