McLellan faces former Sharks team for first time tonight

He’s the longest-tenured and winningest coach in San Jose history.

But tonight, he’ll be trying to deal the Sharks a loss.

That, of course, is Todd McLellan, currently in his first year as Oilers bench boss after spending the previous seven seasons in the Bay Area.

Tonight, the Oilers will host the Sharks at Rexall — the first meeting of the year between the two clubs — and, prior to, McLellan discussed how he felt about facing his former club.

“It’s different,” he explained, per the team website. “I can downplay it, but it’s different. I probably know that team better than I know our team here in Edmonton now, at least personally, family-wise and what a lot of those players and individuals have gone through.

“I was invested with them. So that’s a little bit different.”

Tonight’s game features two teams going in different directions.

The Sharks have lost four straight and five of their last six, including Tuesday’s 4-2 defeat in Calgary.

The Oilers have won three straight and four of their last five, including Sunday’s 4-2 victory over Buffalo.

Edmonton’s recent streak came after a lousy stretch in which it went 1-3-1 on a five-game road trip, which was punctuated by an ugly 3-0 loss in Toronto — and McLellan calling out certain underachieving players.

While pundits thought that could’ve been a breaking point, it seemed to have the opposite effect as the Oilers have since played some of their best hockey of the year.

Perhaps that’s what McLellan was talking about when he was introduced as the new bench boss, saying his goal was to “build that mental strength” he thought the club lacked.

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