SUN Hockey Pool

Kid line of fire

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

They've been the talk of the town and a big reason why the Edmonton Oilers have won six of their last seven games.

Andrew Cogliano, Sam Gagner and Robert Nilsson have been lighting things up recently.

They have combined for 22 points in those seven games. Nilsson has at least one point in each of those contests and Cogliano has six goals, which includes three game winners.

Conversely, the Oilers' top line of Dustin Penner, Jarret Stoll and Ales Hemsky have 12 points between them during that same stretch.

"They're playing well," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish of the kid line.

"I think it's a combination of great ability, opportunity and maybe necessity, in order to keep us winning and allowing us to have some success they have to play well.

"Together there's a good synergy between the three of them. They support the puck well, they support the cycles well, they're able to create on the rush and they're able to create on the cycle, too, because of that good support."

HALF OF THE SCORING

The line was directly responsible for three of the Oilers' six goals in the win over the Blackhawks.

Gagner helped create Nilsson's goal in the second period, then slid a fantastic pass to Cogliano for his first of two in the third. In overtime, Nilsson set up Cogliano for an easy tap-in to win the contest.

"He (Nilsson) has got that vision and that hand speed to make that quick pass," MacTavish said. "He made another, very similar to that to (Tom) Gilbert, here (against Nashville) where he was coming through the slot.

"The two things that jumped out about that, is the ability to execute the play and you have to have the head to see it quickly. Both times there wasn't much of a hole in either one of those passes and it was a play highly reflective of a high skill level player."

PLEASANT SURPRISES

Making their sudden offensive outburst more impressive was the fact none of the three were expected to be in the Oilers lineup at the beginning of the season. Gagner, 18, was coming out of junior and a longshot to make the team. Cogliano, 20, was coming out of college and expected to spend some time in the AHL. Nilsson, 23, was coming from the N.Y. Islanders and considered in need of seasoning.

Now both Cogliano and Gagner are tied for fifth in rookie scoring with 37 points. Nilsson has 33 points.

"I think they have a bright future," MacTavish said. "You never know how these things progress and how they translate from year to year. We saw the Kid line that we had here in 1990 (Joe Murphy, Adam Graves, Martin Gelinas) who were dominant in the playoffs and then the next year were really ineffective for whatever reason. But I don't see that happening with this skilled group."


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