- Katie Strang, ESPN.com
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Trending up: Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning -- The 23-year-old Czech winger has four points in his last two games, including a two-goal performance in the Lightning’s 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night. There were many people who wondered about whether Palat would be impacted by the dreaded "sophomore slump," but he has instead been able to follow up on a terrific 23-goal 2013-14 campaign with another solid showing this season.
Trending down: Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars -- Granted, Seguin is still the league’s leading goal scorer, and it’s only fair to point out that he was battling an illness this week, but he’s experiencing a bit of a dry spell at the moment, having been held off the scoresheet entirely in four of his last five games. Though the 22-year-old put together a stunning first half, 2015 has not been as kind to him. Seguin has only one goal in January and only one goal in his past 11 games. Meanwhile, the Stars are sliding yet again as losers in five of their last six games.
Surprise of the week: David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins -- After dominating in the American Hockey League and dazzling at the World Juniors this month, the 18-year-old rookie has been so impressive in his Bruins audition that he forced general manager Peter Chiarelli’s hand. With four goals in nine games, Pastrnak earned himself an extended stay, as Chiarelli announced Thursday night that the Bruins will keep the 2014 first-round draft pick up with the big club, thus triggering the first year of his entry-level contract.
Trending up: Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets -- With six points in the last four games, Big Buff has been a beast for Winnipeg’s blue line, looking even more productive in his move back to defense than he was playing forward earlier this year. There’s a lot to like about what is happening in the Peg right now with the Jets currently occupying one of two wild-card spots out West. A big part of that has been stellar goaltending from Michael Hutchinson, but Byfuglien is figuring into a key role on the back end, especially with Winnipeg’s blue line decimated by injuries.
Trending down: Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers -- The 25-year-old captain of the New York Rangers remains one of the best young defenseman in the game, but this has not been a banner week for McDonagh, who is a minus-2 in the last two games, both shutout losses for the formerly red-hot Blueshirts. McDonagh was so good last season, his name was bandied about in the Norris Trophy conversation. He’s going to have to be much better in the second half to garner that sort of consideration again.
Surprise of the week: Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild -- Consider us very shocked to see the sort of uncharacteristic display from Suter that we did Tuesday night, when he delivered a nasty elbow to the head of the Pittsburgh Penguins' Steve Downie, a reckless play that earned him (and rightfully so) a two-game suspension. It’s easy to understand the mounting frustration in Minnesota, but it was surprising to see it manifest like that in such a dumb, dangerous move.
Trending up: Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins -- Rask has rattled off four straight wins for the Boston Bruins and my, how desperately those were needed. Most recently, Rask posted a 30-save shutout against the New York Rangers, blanking the Blueshirts 3-0 on Thursday night. The 27-year-old Finnish netminder has allowed only six goals over the past four games, as his Bruins have regained some footing in the Atlantic Division standings.
Trending down: Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings -- It has truly been a tough stretch for Quick as the Kings have dropped the last four games in which Quick has appeared. After giving up five goals in a shootout loss to Winnipeg in his last start, the former Conn Smythe Trophy winner gave up two goals on seven shots in relief of Martin Jones in the Kings’ 5-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.
Surprise of the week: Joni Ortio, Calgary Flames -- It’s been a strong showing from 23-year-old Ortio, who pitched a 36-save shutout in his season debut last weekend and followed that up with another win Thursday night against the Arizona Coyotes. The Flames appear to be in good hands with Ortio as backup to Jonas Hiller -- at least for the time being with Karri Ramo on the shelf. The young Finn might get even more opportunities should Hiller continue to struggle.
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