SUN Hockey Pool

Oil kids playing lights out

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

Their knees are supposed to be knocking and their hands are supposed to be shaking.

At 18, 20 and 23, and with a combined total of 262 NHL games between the three of them, Edmonton's kid line is supposed to be scared stiff right about now.

The season is hanging in the balance, the stakes are getting higher, the games are getting bigger ... and Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano and Robert Nilsson are getting better.

Since Edmonton's 10-2 hot streak began, they've combined for a whopping 37 points (3-9-12 for Nilsson, 7-6-13 for Cogliano and 4-9-13 for Gagner).

"It's exciting," said Gagner. "The reason we're playing so well is we're playing loose and we're having fun out there. With a young team we have to play that way.

"If we (worry about the pressure), we won't play the way we've been playing."

FORGET THE PRESSURE

It can't be easy, tuning out the stress and expectations and pressure, but they've managed to make the pressure of a do-or-die stretch drive look like a ball of fun.

"We've talked about it before, the infectiousness of youth," said head coach Craig MacTavish. "You saw that in the celebration of the goal last game when Tom Gilbert scored. Cogs comes in and jumps on him, then Sam comes in, then Bobby comes in.

"It's pretty funny when you watch the tape of it.

"I don't see that they're getting tired," the coach continued. "A lot of times young players will get mentally fatigued with the rigorous schedule. You don't see that at all with our young group."

Defenceman Matt Greene says their ability to stay so cool given the stakes could be a simple case of youthful ignorance, the same thing he had in his first season.

"I don't think they know what's going on," said Greene. "The guys who are leading us, it's their first year, they don't know what the playoffs are. Same thing in my first year.

"I was kind of just along for the ride and all of a sudden we're in the Stanley Cup final. I'm thinking 'This is great, can't wait for next year, get another crack at the Cup here.' They're just out there having a good time. I don't think they realize what's going on. That's not a knock on them, it just shows their youth, that they're still having fun playing the game."

FUN TO WATCH

And he says it's been fun to watch.

"There's a lot of magic on that line, there's so much skill there," said Greene "Every goal seems like it's tic-tac-toe. For a guy like me, it's kind of cool to sit back and watch and see what this game can actually be like if you have some skill."


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