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Oilers-Kings: Familiar yet 'different' foes face off again in Round 1


Edmonton's quest for Stanley begins Monday night, and it starts with a familiar — yet different — foe.

The Oilers will host the Los Angeles Kings Monday night starting at 8 p.m., and while it's the third year in a row the Pacific Division rivals meet in the first round of the National Hockey League playoffs, familiarity is fickle, says Oilers forward Zach Hyman.

"Every series is kind of in a vacuum," Hyman told media after Monday's morning skate.

"I think everybody looks at it as the third time in a row, but each team is different. Your team is different year to year there ... Even though we're playing a familiar opponent, it's a different team."

The Oilers beat the Kings the past two years to move on to the next round, winning the 2022 series in seven games and last season's in six.

Edmonton beat L.A. in three of four regular-season meetings in 2023-24.

Kings head coach Jim Hiller says, in some ways, his team knows what to expect from the likes of Oilers superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, particularly on the power play, but all teams fine-tune their play to try to improve their chances.

"(Players have) seen most of it before, but they're continually trying to adjust as we adjust, too, so there are new things that they're doing or things that they've done against us this year that they hadn't done in the past," Hiller told reporters on Monday.

"We're in the process of preparing (Kings players), but ... we know what they do well. There's no question there."

Both teams will draw on playoff experience and experience overcoming obstacles to help them navigate the potential pitfalls of a playoff series.

"You can even go through the course of the season that we've had the start of the year, the sky was falling and we put a lot of pressure on ourselves, and we were able to take ourselves out of it," Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse said after the morning skate, recalling the stagnant 3-9-1 start to the 2023-24 NHL campaign the Oilers endured, culminating in the firing of head coach Jay Woodcroft, before mostly running the table to finish the regular season as one of 10 teams with 100-plus points.

"The experience is like that. There are going to be highs and lows that come throughout the game, throughout a series in the playoffs. The teams that handle it the best, those are teams that usually play the longest." Top Stories

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