After two wins (and 12 goals) against the rival Calgary Flames to begin the season, the Edmonton Oilers came crashing back down to Earth on Sunday — at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres.
Afterward, coach Todd McLellan ripped into his players with a very straightforward assessment of their play, following a 6-2 home loss that included goalie Cam Talbot being scored on from center ice.
Talbot has now given up 13 goals on 99 shots faced in three games.
But his play wasn’t the only issue facing the Oilers.
“We looked like the Bad News Bears,” said McLellan. “We had guys falling all over the place. We didn’t execute. Our passing was poor. Positionally, from the goaltender to the (defense) on up to the forwards, no one was ready to play.
“From each and every game, you learn lessons. We learned a lesson that we’re not quite ready to take a step. We can’t handle prosperity yet. We just got kicked right between the legs and we deserved it.”
As for Talbot’s play, the coach seemed to stick up for his goalie, but admitted he “struggled immensely.”
The long-distance goal didn’t look good. But at the time, that put the Oilers down only one goal.
“Would a better team recover from that and help him out? Because I saw him stop 23 (shots) the other night in Calgary and save our asses,” said McLellan.
He was also very critical of Benoit Pouliot, who took a pair of minor penalties in the first period versus the Sabres, after taking three minors in 12:14 of ice time versus Calgary on Friday.
The 30-year-old Pouliot — who also scored Sunday — was benched for the final two periods.
“We have some foundation or fabric things that we have to continue to fix as an organization. And stupidity is one of them,” said McLellan.
The Oilers were supposed to enjoy a day off on Monday.
McLellan has cancelled that. Practice is on. And it could be one McLellan uses to send a message.