Youth in revolt
By Jesse Pantuosco, Fantasy Sports Writer
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Which Michael Cera film title best describes the story of the 2013 Edmonton Oilers?
A few weeks ago, I would have leaned toward "Superbad" but now I think "Youth in Revolt" is the more appropriate headline.
The Penguins have officially passed the "hottest team in the NHL" torch to Edmonton.
The Flames learned that the hard way Wednesday night in Calgary.
After the wreckage had been cleaned up and all the women and children had been moved to safety, the final tally on the scoreboard read: Oilers 8, Flames 2.
Wednesday was the most recent and possibly the most brutal in a string of many lopsided outcomes for the Oilers over the past two weeks. During the team's five-game winning streak, Edmonton has outscored its opponents by an average of nearly four goals per game (25-7).
The Oilers' Stanley Cup victory parade wasn't scheduled for another three years.
Quick, somebody call the caterers and tell them to have finger foods ready for the reception.
Okay, maybe we're getting ahead of ourselves just a bit. To be fair, Edmonton ranks only eighth in the Western Conference, which would pit them against Chicago in the first round of the playoffs. All the Blackhawks have done this year is go their first 24 games without losing in regulation.
But when you consider that the Oilers were in 13th only ten days ago, well, it makes eighth seem a whole lot more impressive.
Maybe they'll move up to third in another week and a half.
But back to the whole "Youth in Revolt" premise for a second. Edmonton's top scoring line features the trio of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. Add up the ages of those three and you'll get a combined age of 63 years, five months and three days. That's still younger than Bobby Orr.
Nugent-Hopkins is the youngest of the three at just 19 years of age (at least until a week from Friday). He's also been the catalyst during the squad's five-game victory lap.
Over that stretch, the former No. 1 overall pick has piled on nine assists and one goal to go along with a nifty plus-9 rating. Three of those assists and the one goal came in Wednesday's dismantling of Calgary.
And in case you were wondering, no, Nugent-Hopkins is not the only No. 1 draft choice on Edmonton's front line. The other is Hall, who is arguably the most explosive scorer of the bunch. In 33 games this season, the 2010 No. 1 overall selection has tallied 13 goals and 28 assists.
That point total ranks seventh in the NHL and third in the Western Conference. Only four players (Sidney Crosby, Martin St. Louis, Ryan Getzlaf and Nicklas Backstrom) have handed out more assists than Hall in 2013.
Hall's exploits over the last five contests include a hat trick last Saturday against Vancouver, a goal and two assists four days earlier in St. Louis and of course a season-best four assists and one goal during Wednesday night's onslaught in Calgary. The 14 points (six goals, eight assists) Hall has tallied during the win streak account for 34.1 percent of his production this season.
While Hall has been trying to put himself in the MVP discussion, Eberle, the old man of the group (he'll turn 23 next month), has been nearly as impressive. The right winger has potted five goals in his last five contests, converting on a brilliantly accurate 35.7 percent of his chances. He's had two multi-goal games over that span, which is one more than he had all season prior to the winning streak.
Even Nail Yakupov, a 19-year-old from Russia and coincidentally the No. 1 pick in last summer's NHL draft (Edmonton has won the draft lottery each of the last three seasons), has gotten into the act. Somehow the youngster found time to score twice in Wednesday night's victory, even getting some work in with the power-play unit. He must have snuck it in sometime between recess and pottery class.
Though quiet in Wednesday's game -- just one assist -- 22-year-old defenseman Justin Schultz has also been a big contributor for the Oilers this season. He ranks fourth in rookie scoring (20 points in 36 appearances) and is easily the highest scoring blueliner among first-year players. Fellow defenseman Jeff Petry is the only non-goalie on Edmonton's roster who has averaged more ice time than Schultz this season.
Devan Dubnyk seems like a dinosaur compared to his teammates, but at age 26, he's relatively young as well. He's also the hottest goaltender in the league right now.
In his last four games, Dubnyk has turned away 84 of 87 shots for a save percentage of .966. That stinginess has resulted in a 0.90 goals against average.
This five-game surge has brought out my nostalgic side. The influx of young talent in Edmonton is reminiscent of an era when the Oilers were the most dominant hockey franchise on the planet, capturing four Stanley Cups in a five-year period from 1984-1988.
The 1980-81 version of the Oilers featured two teenagers (Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier) and a 20-year-old (Jari Kurri). That trio combined for 106 goals and a plus-55 rating. Three years later, they won their first Stanley Cup together.
So maybe, "Youth in Revolt" isn't the right choice after all. Perhaps "Year One," another Cera film, is the better fit.
Who knows what years two, three and four hold for Edmonton, but don't be surprised if one of them ends with a parade at the end of it.
04/04 17:00:49 ET