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Alex the efficient

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL – In these tough times, waste of any kind doesn’t go over well. Alex Tanguay is certainly doing his part when it comes to taking shots on goal.

Though his exceptional vision and playmaking skills preceded his arrival in Montreal, Tanguay has had a tight eye on the target since from the moment he stepped foot into the NHL, and this season hasn’t been any different.

The nine-year veteran has enjoyed a 21.1% shooting percentage success rate through 46 games in 2008-09, as 15 of his 71 shots have found the back of the net.  As it stands, he’s on pace to surpass the 20% efficiency mark for the sixth time in his career.

With his all-time success at 19.55%, Tanguay ranks seventh in NHL history and, with Gary Roberts’ recent retirement, is well ahead of his nearest active pursuer. Minnesota Wild forward Andrew Brunette holds that role, sitting 38th overall.

While his teammates surely appreciate his willingness to pass them the puck, his charitable ways on the ice do come with a price. The 29-year-old’s generosity could, for the second time in his career, prevent him from claiming the title as the league’s most efficient goal-scorer.  Tanguay needs just 11 shots over the Canadiens’ five remaining games to qualify; it would bring his total to 82, the equivalent of one per game.  Should those shots not see the light of day, Tampa Bay’s Ryan Malone could take the crown, with a success rate of 21%, thanks to 25 goals on 119 shots.

The last time he nearly earned top honors on that front was back in his rookie campaign in 1999-2000, with the Avalanche. That year, Tanguay saw the Blues’ Mike Eastwood beat him out, despite his efficiency 23% of the time on a mere 76 shots.

Over the years, seven other players besides Tanguay who had lit the lamp at least 15 times but hadn’t registered enough shots watched as others laid claim as the most efficient goal-scorer. They include Magnus Arvedson (Ottawa) and Tomas Holmstrom (Detroit) in 2000-01, Mike Ridley (Vancouver) in 1996-97, Lou Franceschetti (Toronto) in 1988-1989, Gary Lupul (Vancouver) in 1982-83, as well as Canadiens forwards Murray Wilson and Claude Larose in 1972-73 and 1973-74, respectively.

Heather Engel is a writer for

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