Kings open play under interim coach vs. sizzling Oilers

Kings open play under interim coach vs. sizzling Oilers

The Jim Hiller Era begins for the Los Angeles Kings when they host the red-hot Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night.Hiller was named interim head coach for Los Angeles on Feb. 2, replacing Todd McLellan

The Jim Hiller Era begins for the Los Angeles Kings when they host the red-hot Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night.Hiller was named interim head coach for Los Angeles on Feb. 2, replacing Todd McLellan, who was fired after 4 1/2 seasons behind the bench. Hiller, 54, had been an assistant under McLellan since July 2022. He played 63 career NHL games in the early 1990s, including 40 with the Kings.Los Angeles, which started the season with a 20-7-4 mark, is just 3-8-6 in its past 17 games, a stretch that included an eight-game losing streak (0-4-4). The Kings come in off a nine-day break for the All-Star Game and their bye week following a 4-2 win at Nashville on Jan. 31.Despite the recent slump, the Kings head into the Saturday contest still holding the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference.”I’ll say it like this — we are a really good team,” Hiller told reporters after conducting his first practice. “We have struggled, we’re not going to hide from that. But I think it would be a mistake to overreact in some areas of the game when I don’t think that’s necessary.”The most important thing for me after being around the team, which played very well for the first 24 games of the season, is just getting our frame of mind back where it needs to be.”Los Angeles center Phillip Danault said, “We got kind of lazy in the last month. I know we played a lot of games, but we didn’t have many practices. Todd didn’t have a lot of chances to get us back on track.”Hiller probably couldn’t ask for a tougher challenge for his head-coaching debut. Edmonton has won 17 of its past 18 games, including a 16-game winning streak that matched the second-longest run in league history.

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