Holloway’s impact on the Oilers, and making this a short series

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Yaremchuk
7 days ago
Listen, I don’t think Dylan Holloway is on the verge of going on some sort of magical, Fernando Pisani-esque run this spring, but his performance last night is a great reminder of why you put players like that in your lineup.
He is a high-ceiling player and while Oilers Head Coach Kris Knoblauch had other options, like Derek Ryan or Connor Brown, neither of them have the ability to score the type of goals that Holloway did.
Sure, they might be safer plays, and putting those two, who are competent veteran players, in the lineup would carry less risk. For example, they’re far less likely to make a bad read in the defensive zone. However, there isn’t the same upside that comes with a player like Holloway.
That’s why I was banging this drum during the final few regular season games when Holloway stepped into the lineup and posted five points in the final six games. He has it in him to be an everyday top-nine player and produce like one.
The other thing is that he’s looked more and more comfortable with the puck on his stick, and I noticed that going back to before he was sent back to Bakersfield during the season.
Last season, it felt like when Holloway got the puck on his stick, he was so worried about making a mistake that he was constantly searching for the fastest and safest way to get the puck off his stick. This season, I felt like that started to change. He looked more confident carrying the puck and was willing to actually make plays.
It didn’t really reflect in his production, but it felt like the wheels were turning.
He went down to Bakersfield and got his confidence up and since coming back up, he’s looked like a new player.
It’s also refreshing to see that Kris Knoblauch is rewarding him with more ice time. When he came up at the end of the season and started playing well, I was a little worried that Knoblauch would start the playoffs with Holloway in the press box and opt to play the veteran options that he has at his disposal. 
Despite Holloway’s strong finish, I thought the Oilers coach would play it safe with his lineup to start the postseason.
Not only did he keep Holloway in but during Game 2, he rewarded him with more minutes. After scoring a big goal in the second period, Holloway went on to get one shift with Connor McDavid and played a total of 2:37 with Leon Draisatl and that decision paid immediate dividends as the duo was on the ice together when Holloway popped home his second of the game.
It’s a shame that the Oilers weren’t able to win a game where they got two goals from their fourth-line left-winger but I said heading into the playoffs that this is the best depth the Oilers have had in the Connor McDavid era and I stand by that.
With Holloway and Janmark looking like a duo that can create chances, and more importantly, finish them, and a third line of Kane-McLeod-Perry that has been generating a lot of looks at 5v5, this Oilers team should have no problem continuing to put up four or more goals in every game against the Los Angeles Kings. 
Stuart Skinner struggled on Wednesday night but I’m confident in a bounceback. I asked Zach Laing earlier today on Oilersnation Everyday what his concern level was with the Oilers netminder and he said he was at a five out of ten. I think I’m a little bit lower, maybe at a three right now.
Yes, Skinner’s history in the playoffs leaves me feeling a little bit uneasy, but he was a very solid and consistent goaltender for this team throughout the back half of the season and I think he’s much better prepared to bounce back from a tough start than he was a year ago. I think he’ll help the Oilers in a really positive way tonight.
The big test will be if they can stop shooting themselves in the foot with bad defensive zone breakdowns, like the one that allowed the Kings to open the scoring in Game Two. They also need to clean up their neutral zone play. Allowing Drew Doughty to get a clean breakaway from outside the blueline can’t happen. Losing track of Anze Kopitar in the neutral zone during overtime can’t happen. 
A lot of the Kings’ offence has been a direct result of mistakes made by the Oilers. If they can cut that out, then this still has the potential to be a very quick series in my eyes.


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