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A confident Dylan Holloway may be Oilers’ X-factor in Round 2 vs. the Canucks

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Photo credit:Andy Devlin/EdmontonOilers.com
Sean Panganiban
1 month ago
Edmonton Oilers forward Dylan Holloway caught the attention of Oil Country when he was recalled from the AHL in early April, and scored three goals and five points in the final six games of the regular season, leaving many to wonder if his performance in the final games was strong enough to surpass some of his more veteran teammates and crack the Oilers’ playoff roster.
As we saw, the coaching staff showed confidence in him when he was pencilled onto the opening roster for Game 1 against the Los Angeles Kings, which speaks volumes because he beat out a seasoned vet like Connor Brown, who also played well down the stretch. The 22-year-old rose to the postseason challenge, hustling hard and scoring two crucial goals in the opening round, and his efforts also earned him a higher spot in the lineup in Game 5.
With that in mind, in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, when an X-factor is mentioned, it’s often recognized as a player who can substantially impact a series, even if they aren’t the most obvious option. That said, the Oilers have a confident Holloway heading into the series versus the Vancouver Canucks and he may earn that X-factor title with his unique skillset, potentially helping sway the series in Edmonton’s favour.

Why Holloway’s Confidence Should Be High Heading Into Round 2

Holloway started the series against the Kings on the fourth line, and in Game 2, he delivered his best performance in the NHL. The Oilers lost 5-4 in overtime, which was their only defeat in the opening round, but the silver lining was the former first-round draft pick scoring two huge goals in front of the hometown crowd at Rogers Place.
Yet, let’s focus on how he scored those two tallies. In the second period, he received a pass, quickly released the puck from his stick, and beat goaltender Cam Talbot for his first goal of the night, scoring from a distance. He scored his second goal in the third period, again beating the netminder from long range.
On that note, Holloway has scored nine career regular-season goals, and a good portion of them have come within a couple of feet of the blue paint thanks to his relentless work ethic around the net. However, we haven’t seen him snipe from long range like the way he did twice in Game 2, not since his first NHL goal when he beat former Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin from afar. Moving forward, the two goals he scored from long range against the Kings may leave a lasting impression, which may motivate him to shoot the puck more frequently in the series against the Canucks. This could result in him either scoring, creating chances for his linemates, or helping his team generate momentum.
Additionally, Holloway’s exceptional play earned him a promotion to the third line in Game 5, with Warren Foegele dropped down to the fourth. He played alongside Corey Perry and Ryan McLeod, and although the trio didn’t produce points, the scoring chances were in their favour at 5v5, with a 57.14% share, including two high-danger chances.
Overall, in a short span, Holloway beat out NHL veterans for a playoff roster spot, scored two big goals against a quality netminder from a distance, and displaced a 20-goal scorer from the third line. All of this suggests that ‘Hollywood’ is likely the most confident he’s ever been, which may lead to crucial secondary scoring.

Holloway’s Speed May Cause a Disturbance for Canucks’ Defencemen

Additionally, Holloway’s speed could be a significant advantage against the Canucks’ larger defencemen, such as Carson Soucy, Nikita Zadorov, and Tyler Myers, who are absolute giants on the back end, standing between 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-8.
However, according to NHL EDGE stats, the speedy Oiler ranks in the top 75th percentile in the NHL in terms of top-end speed, whereas Soucy, Zadorov, Myers and even Ian Cole (who isn’t as large as them) all rank below the 50th percentile in top-end speed.
On a few occasions against the Kings, Holloway successfully pulled off one-on-one moves, even against their stingy defensive system, and against Vancouver’s slower blueliners, his speed will be helpful as he could potentially beat them wide, but also to out-race them to loose pucks if he’s forced to dump it in. In addition, the Oilers have a handful of players who can do this, but he’ll also be able to close in on them quickly to deliver a big check and create energy for his team.
Moreover, Vancouver’s ace on the back end, Quinn Hughes, who led all NHL blueliners with 92 points in the regular season, is a quick and agile skater. On that note, TSN’s Farhan Lalji alluded recently to the likelihood that the Canucks’ captain isn’t 100%, saying, “I think he’s banged up versus [being] injured.” He added, “As that series shifted to Nashville, over those final four games, [the Predators] did everything they could, and they got to him a bit.” Overall, Lalji mentioned that Hughes received some big hits in the opening series against Nashville and suggested that the Canuck will likely be playing at around 90% against the Oilers.
Hughes is a very dangerous player from the back end, and the Oilers will have to limit his time and space on the ice and play him physically, which will wear him down further and make it hard for him to work his magic. That said, Natural Stat Trick shows that in the first round against the Kings, Holloway ranked third on the team in hits per 60 minutes (15.81). So, combining that physicality with being one of Edmonton’s best skaters, he’d be a suitable choice to use his 206-pound frame to land impactful hits and slow down the elusive Hughes.
All in all, Holloway’s career so far has been clouded by injuries and ups and downs from the AHL to the big leagues, but the forward is stepping up now when the stakes are higher. The Oilers’ big guns in the top six are expected to produce points, but if Holloway continues chipping in on the scoresheet and uses his speed effectively to generate momentum against the Canucks, he might lock in the status as the Oilers’ X-factor, a prediction Tyler Yaremchuk made before the start of the postseason.
With that in mind, what are your expectations or point predictions for Holloway in the upcoming series against the Canucks?

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