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Oilers’ Foegele and Holloway should boost confidence up front with recent scoring against Panthers

Edmonton Oilers Florida Panthers
Photo credit:Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
Sean Panganiban
1 month ago
The Edmonton Oilers defeated the Florida Panthers in Game 4 by a score of 8-1, the most goals scored by any team in the 2024 playoffs. At the end of the game, Sportsnet’s play-by-play commentator Chris Cuthbert said the Oilers’ victory was “A confidence boost for this Oilers team, who sends it back to Florida.”
For the team as a whole, their confidence may have been slipping before Game 4, as Panthers’ netminder Sergei Bobrovsky played lights out and made numerous key saves, despite Edmonton creating 40% more high-danger chances than Florida and having 70% more offensive zone time throughout the first three games.
Yet, scoring eight goals against the Panthers should strengthen the Oilers’ belief. That said, Warren Foegele and Dylan Holloway, who both have recently found the back of the net and ended their long scoring slumps, they’re likely to inject a burst of confidence into Edmonton’s attack up front, which should help in their team’s fight to make a comeback in the series, if they can sustain their elevated play.

Foegele’s Recent Play Looks Promising Despite Underwhelming Postseason

After reaching the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his NHL career, Foegele was picked by some, including this writer, to be the Oilers’ unsung playoff hero. However, for the most part, his postseason play has been underwhelming—until recently.
The 28-year-old scored his first goal of the playoffs on an empty net in Game 1 against the Los Angeles Kings. After that, he went on a pointless 11-game stretch, until he recorded an assist in Game 2 against the Dallas Stars, but was healthy scratched for the last three games of the series.
He was inserted back into the lineup against the Panthers, but in Game 2, he was ejected and received a questionable five-minute major for kneeing Eetu Luostarinen. At that point, Foegele was trending to be a non-factor against the Panthers, but he flipped a switch in Games 3 and 4.
He brought the crowd at Rogers Place to their feet in Game 3 when he was sprung on a breakaway by Adam Henrique and beat Bobrovsky with a glove-side wrister, ending an 18-game goalless drought. The goal was significant because Foegele had generally struggled to convert on his breakaway chances since arriving in Edmonton, and also because at the time, the Oilers had only managed to beat the Panthers’ netminder once, instilling confidence in his team that Bobrovsky wasn’t some type of majestic unbeatable force.
Even though the Oilers fell short 4-3 in Game 3, Kris Knoblauch made yet another good move by capitalizing on Foegele’s momentum and promoted him to the top line to play with Connor McDavid and Zach Hyman for Game 4. The Markham, ON native, sported a Kobe Bryant t-shirt before the game and looked confident throughout the night. He played 16:03 minutes, the second most in his 19 playoff appearances, and finished with a plus/minus of +3.
Foegele wasn’t credited with an assist on McDavid’s goal in the second period, but he played a key part in it by taking a hit to make a play. Aaron Ekblad laid a heavy hit on him, which also took the Panthers’ D-man out of position, but Foegele still made a good play to get the puck to Evan Bouchard. Hyman received the pass, and with Ekblad out of position, McDavid received the puck and had a clear lane to the net and beat Bobrovsky.
There was also a sequence in the third period where Foegele protected the puck well for seven seconds off the draw in the offensive zone, taking it from one side behind the net to the other and eventually centered it to Hyman for a high-danger chance. With the poise he showed on that particular play, he looked more reminiscent of the confident 20-goal man he was in the regular season. He also recorded an assist later in the night as well, which is discussed later in the article.

Holloway’s Confidence Likely Riding High After Big Game 4

Holloway scored two big goals against the Kings in Game 2 of the first round and buried the biggest goal of his career in an elimination game against the Vancouver Canucks in Game 6, using his speed to zip past three Canucks and beating Arturs Silovs, to open the scoring in a 5-1 Oilers’ win.
However, he was held pointless in the series win over the Stars, despite playing 35 minutes at 5v5 with Leon Draisaitl. Despite that, Holloway has been impressive away from the puck, as he leads all Oilers’ forwards in blocks (20), and also leads the team with 74 hits.
He played the majority of his minutes with Draisaitl on the second line in Games 1 and 2 against the Panthers but was dropped to the fourth line in Game 3, where he logged his lowest amount of playing time this postseason (5:24 minutes). Yet, another Knoblauch move paid off by moving Holloway back to the second line with Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in Game 4, where Holloway had his best offensive game since the first round.
The 22-year-old scored a gorgeous goal off a Draisaitl pass—his first of the night—with a little catch, drag, and backhand shot over Bobrovsky’s pad, ending an 10-game goal-scoring slump. On his second goal, he started the play by head-manning the puck to Corey Perry, who made a nifty pass to McDavid. Holloway read the play well, charged towards the net for an easy tap-in, and finished it off with his best Bobby Orr impression, by flying through the air.
Additionally, both Holloway and Foegele played a part in the last Oilers’ goal, picking up assists to make it 8-1 late in the third period. Holloway chipped the puck past a Panthers’ D-man, Foegele received it, and he and Holloway used their speed to create a 2-on-1 chance, with Ryan McLeod burying the loose puck.
After the goal, Sportsnet’s Craig Simpson said, “What you’re witnessing, is all of a sudden, confidence is going to your legs”, noting the quickness and confidence shown by both Foegele and Holloway on that play.

An Outlook for Foegele and Holloway for Game 5

The Oilers needed to win Game 4, and they won it decisively, by a score of 8-1. Being at the game, it was loud and rambunctious, with thousands discovering their new go-to karaoke tunes as Bon Jovi and Shania Twain songs led the sing-alongs. After the win, Oilers fans took the celebration into the streets with a sense of pride and hope for their team.
Still, they have a big mountain to climb, but both Holloway and Foegele finding their confidence offensively is a giant boost up front, especially if they remain in the top six. If Foegele maintains his elevated play, lines one and two are very balanced. He’d be the big body that uses his speed to create space and also takes on the role of shooter on the line with McDavid and Hyman. Also, with his confidence high, he poses as a threat to score, something that couldn’t be said for almost the entire playoffs.
With Foegele elevated to the top line, Nugent-Hopkins dropping to second is a good adjustment, because it gives Draisaitl a playmaker to play fetch with, with Holloway also using his size and speed to create space. Draisaitl has gone goalless over the last seven games and of course, he needs to start scoring. Yet, if he continues to struggle, there’s solace in the fact that he can dish the puck over to his linemate, Holloway, who’s found his scoring touch and who can hopefully channel his confidence and remain hot, in the best-case scenario, for at least three more games.
As a whole, the Oilers should feel confident heading into Game 5, chasing the seemingly unbeatable Bobrovsky from the net in the 8-1 win, which also set a record for the largest margin of victory by an NHL team facing elimination in a Stanley Cup Final. That said, if Holloway and Foegele are firing on all cylinders, their size, speed, and scoring ability may be key to helping the Oilers extend the series against the Panthers.

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