McLellan sends a message to Oilers after back-to-back losses

AP
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About a year ago, after a particularly brutal loss to Buffalo, Todd McLellan ripped into his team.

It was early in the season, but the Edmonton Oilers coach saw something he didn’t like in his team’s effort that night and he moved quickly to address it.

Fast forward to the end of the first week of the 2017-18 season.

Led by Connor McDavid, the Oilers completely outplayed the Calgary Flames in the season opener. The result was a 3-0 win, which could’ve been bigger if not for the performance of Flames goalie Mike Smith. Since then, however, Edmonton has lost to the Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets.

McLellan once again had a message for his team, with reports out of Edmonton showing a highly intense skate on Wednesday.

“We started at training camp on Day 1 trying to remind the players how hard it is to win, and part of solving that puzzle is work ethic,” said McLellan, per the Edmonton Journal on Wednesday.

“I thought we were really outworked the other night. We tried to do a lot of things the easy way. Today was a reminder that we have to get back to work.”

Last season, the Oilers snapped a lengthy — and frankly embarrassing — playoff drought and then came within one victory of qualifying for the Western Conference Final. They also went on a five-game winning streak immediately following McLellan’s sharp public criticism.

Loaded with McDavid and Leon Draisaitl up front and after a sensational year in net from Cam Talbot, expectations surrounding this Oilers team have risen significantly.

They don’t play again until Saturday, when they host the Ottawa Senators. It might be early in the season, but McLellan has once again wasted little time in trying to grab the attention of his team after subpar performances.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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