On February 14th, 2011, the Oilers were in danger of having one of the ten worst special teams units of all time:
There you have it. The Edmonton Oilers have the worst special teams in the NHL since the 1982-1983 Detroit Red Wings. In the Ducks game thread, I mentioned the final penalty kill having some historical significance -- by killing that penalty, the Oilers vaulted over the Islanders and out of the bottom five. Even though the Oilers are just playing out the string, fans have something to track -- can the Oilers stay out of the bottom five all-time? Except for Detroit, the teams they've managed to put behind them with their post-December rally were all expansion teams and except for the North Stars, the teams directly in front of them were expansion teams.
Things changed dramatically over the last two months of the season.
I detailed the run in my previous article on STE:
Edmonton finished last, but had the largest improvement in the league over the last four months of the season. The reasons behind the improvement were two-fold: first, Tom Renney stopped using the terrible Diamond Penalty Kill, second, and more importantly, Nikolai Khabibulin was benched more often in favor of Devan Dubnyk, a goaltender who didn't specialize in kicking rebounds into the slot 22 feet away from the goal.
It was that late-season charge that got the Oilers out of the sub-90% STE club and ensured that they wouldn't be remembered as the worst special teams in the final post-expansion era. That honor still belongs to the 09-10 Toronto Maple Leafs: