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BLOG: Early season loss set the tone for Oilers

The team's attitude was established following an early season 6-2 loss against the Buffalo Sabres

by Paul Gazzola /

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Seventy-five games into the 2016-17 schedule and the Oilers are two points from first place in the Pacific Division. They've amassed 91 total this season - eclipsing the 90-point mark for the first time since 2005-06 - and are inching towards a post-season berth.

Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan didn't necessarily think ahead to what could happen this campaign but looking back now, he knows when the tempo was set.

It was the squad's third game of the season against the Buffalo Sabres.

"Standing here today, a moment that I reflect on and look back during our year was in game three or four maybe against Buffalo," said McLellan.

The Oilers were handed a 6-2 loss and in a way, it was a blessing in disguise.

"I saw a lot of habits, a lot of body language, a lot of commitment issues that we've perhaps seen in the past," continued McLellan.

The following morning was initially intended to be an off-day but the team elected to swap its CBA-mandated day off to get back to work and correct their shortcomings.

"That day off ended up not being a whipping boy skate like everybody thought it was going to be," McLellan said. "It was a structured practice where we clarified things again. We had as much work off the ice as we did on the ice. To me, that set our team up to get going and that was going to be the tone we were going to have all year; we weren't going to let it slip. From that point on, we had good stretches and bad stretches and by no means are we done yet, but it became very business-like every day. And we needed that.

"Did it turn the light on that we would have a chance to fight for first place? No, but it was something that needed to happen."

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