They knew it was coming.

After being outworked in back-to-back losses and falling to 1-2 on the season, the Edmonton Oilers knew that head coach Todd McLellan would be attacking the problem Wednesday morning.

And he did, getting his message through loud and clear in an intense and gruelling 60-minute session at the Downtown Community Arena adjacent to Rogers Place.

McLellan skated their legs till they were rubber, then put them through battle drills until they were bent over at the waist gasping for air. Then he gave them a few seconds to gulp some water and did it all over again.

“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, who hasn’t seen nearly enough of it in the brief downward slide. “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.

“I’m happy the way the guys responded, happy with the effort they put in. Now it has to carry over into Thursday, Friday and the game Saturday.”

McLellan wanted to do something like this when the symptoms first creeped in during the 3-2 loss in Vancouver last Saturday, but with another game Monday it wouldn’t have been prudent.