Trending up: John Tavares, New York Islanders -- At 24, the Isles' superstar is threatening to win his first NHL scoring title and, while he’s at it, has put himself firmly in the Hart Trophy conversation as league MVP. He’s playing his best hockey of the season down the stretch which is a common trait with him. There is just not enough national attention being paid to what this guy is doing.
Trending down: Nazem Kadri, Toronto Maple Leafs -- Speaking of 24-year-olds drafted in the same year as Tavares (six spots lower), it is time for the talented Leafs center to mature a little. That was the message from team president Brendan Shanahan after he announced Kadri would sit out a further two games for his behavior this season. Not exactly what you want to see from a player in a contract year, either, but he’s a very good player, and the Leafs need this kid to rebuild around. Hopefully this is the message that sinks in.
Surprise of the week: Matt Stajan, Calgary Flames -- The veteran forward has four goals and one assist (4-1) in his last four games after scoring just three times in his first 40 games this season. Better late than never as the Flames need every contribution they can get in their surprise playoff drive.
Trending up: Kris Russell, Calgary Flames -- Does eight points (2-6) in his last four games grab your attention? With Mark Giordano out for the season, Russell has been given a bigger role and he has thrived with it, not just offensively but also defensively. You love these stories.
Trending down: Nick Leddy, New York Islanders -- Because he's been a steady force on the Isles’ top four all season long, the news that Leddy will be out at least two weeks with an upper body injury is unfortunate for the player and the team. He’s been terrific all year and will be missed. Hopefully not for too long.
Surprise of the week: Andrew MacWillliam, Toronto Maple Leafs -- The seventh-round pick from the 2008 draft played his first NHL game Wednesday night with his proud parents watching in the stands at Air Canada Centre, and even chipped in with an assist in Toronto’s 4-3 shootout win over Buffalo. Hey, it’s not all bad news in Toronto all the time.
Trending up: Eddie Lack, Vancouver Canucks -- The Swedish backup netminder has stepped up with a solid run in Ryan Miller’s absence and kept the Canucks in the playoff hunt, ensuring that Miller’s injury wasn’t a season-killer.
Trending down: Frederik Andersen and John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks -- The Ducks have lost three straight games entering Friday’s game and they’ve given up 13 goals in the process. Anderson has a .915 percentage, Gibson stands at .916. It’s not bad but you wonder, will the goaltending suffice for the Ducks in the playoffs? My hunch is yes and I bet you Gibson rises as a springtime hero.
Surprise of the week: Anders Lindback, Buffalo Sabres. This is a case of low expectations but given how Lindback played in Dallas this season -- .875 save percentage and 3.71 goals-against average -- the fact that he’s put up a .914 SP and 3.16 GAA in four games on the league’s worst team since joining the Sabres actually stands as a surprise.