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Alfredsson doesn't miss often

by Adam Kimelman

Efficiency is something everyone wants. Making better use of one's time allows a person to have more time to enjoy life.

That concept can be applied to the hockey world, as well.

It's easy to work hard. It's harder to work smart and make the most of the scoring opportunities that are presented.

Alex Ovechkin may have led the League with 65 goals, but he wasn't the most economical player, scoring on just 14.6 percent of his shots. So who did the most with the least? Here's a look at the most efficient goal scorers in the Eastern Conference in 2007-08:

Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa -- The Senators' captain had much to distract him last season. There was the hangover from losing in the 2006 Stanley Cup Final, a new coach to start the season, the situation surrounding now-departed goaltender Ray Emery, and a midseason coaching change. Through it all, though, Alfredsson stayed on target.

At 35, Alfredsson had his most-accurate season, scoring on 18.4 percent of his shots. With 40 goals on just 217 attempts, no player in the Eastern Conference was as accurate. It was Alfredsson's second 40-goal season, but he needed 32 fewer shots to reach the mark then when he scored 43 in 2005-06.

Ilya Kovalchuk, Atlanta -- Kovalchuk provided a ray of sunshine in an otherwise disappointing season for the Thrashers.

Kovalchuk had 52 goals for the second time in three seasons, but the Atlanta forward was far more efficient in 2007-08 -- he needed just 283 shots, for a shooting percentage of 18.4. When Kovalchuk scored 52 in 2005-06, he needed 323 shots to do it.

Dany Heatley, Ottawa -- The Senators' forward took just 224 shots, the fewest since his rookie season. But he made them count, placing 41 of them behind NHL goalies for a career-best 18.3 shooting percentage.

In scoring 100 goals from 2005-07, Heatley needed 610 shots (more than 300 each season), for a 16.4 percent success rate. Last season proved that Heatley can be just as effective taking fewer shots.

Daniel Paille, Buffalo -- The Sabres took on a different look last season, with new players in different roles. That includes Paille, who made a strong impression in his first full NHL campaign.

Paille took just 110 shots in 77 games, but scored on 19 of them, for a 17.3-percent accuracy rate.

Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh -- In his second NHL season, Malkin stepped out from Sidney Crosby's lengthy shadow to take his place among the League's brightest young stars.

Malkin took 30 more shots than his rookie campaign, but added 14 goals. With 47 scores on 272 shots, Malkin was successful on 17.3 percent of his attempts, yet another number the Penguins' forward raised from Year 1 to Year 2.

Brooks Laich, Washington
-- Most of the Capitals scoring comes from Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin. Last season, Laich made a case for joining in the goal party.

The third-line center took just 122 shots, but scored 21 times. The shots were just three more than his previous career best, but the 21 goals nearly tripled his previous career high of eight.

Daniel Briere, Philadelphia -- Until the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Briere's first season with the Flyers wasn't very noteworthy. While he was less active offensively, he made good use of his time, scoring 31 goals on just 182 shots, for a 17.0 percent success rate.

In the playoffs, though, Briere showed why the Flyers chased him so hard in free agency. Briere had nine goals on just 45 shots for a 20.0 percent success rate, tied for second among players who scored at least five goals.

Ryan Malone, Tampa Bay
-- Malone's 159 shots last season with the Penguins were the most of his four-season NHL career. And with a career-best 27 goals, he certainly took advantage of his opportunities, scoring on 17.0 percent of his shots.

The Lightning hope he packed his efficiency and accuracy with him when he moved to Tampa Bay this summer.

Andrei Kostitsyn, Montreal -- Playing in the Canadiens' up-tempo offense, it didn't take Kostitsyn long to find a winning rhythm.
In his first full NHL season, Kostitsyn scored 26 times on just 156 shots for a 16.7-percent shooting percentage.

Mike Knuble, Philadelphia -- Knuble isn't the kind of player who is going to wind up and rifle a slap shot past a goalie from the top of the circle. Rather, the Philadelphia power forward likes to get in close and pounce on rebounds. Knuble certainly made the most of his opportunities in 2007-08, scoring 29 times on 177 shots, for a 16.4-percent shooting percentage.

Jason Spezza, Ottawa -- The Senators' center repeated his career-best 34 goals last season, and took a personal-best 210 shots to get there. While his shooting percentage was down from 21.0 percent in 2006-07 to 16.2 percent last season, he got more accurate as last season wore on. It took him 162 shots to score his first 24 goals (14.8 percent), but just 48 shots to notch his last 10 (20.8 percent).

Nik Antropov, Toronto -- Leafs fans have been waiting a long time for the No. 10 pick of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft to have a breakout season, and they were rewarded in 2007-08. Antropov, who played most of the season on a line with Mats Sundin, was active and accurate at a career-best pace. He set personal marks last season with 26 goals on 165 shots, for a 15.6 shooting percentage.

Tomas Plekanec, Montreal
-- The third-year Canadiens' center took advantage of the extra space provided by playing alongside Alexei Kovalev to have his best NHL season. Plekanec had 29 goals on 186 shots for a 15.6-percent shooting accuracy. Plekanec was at his best in February, scoring 8 goals on just 42 shots (19.0 percent), while putting up a 2-shot, 2-goal game as well as a 3-shot, 3-goal game.

Vaclav Prospal, Tampa Bay -- It was a memorable season for Prospal on a number of fronts. He had his first 30-goal season, and also his most effective, scoring on 15.3 percent of 215 shots.

Prior to his February trade from the Lightning to Philadelphia, Prospal was at his best, scoring 29 goals on 175 shots (16.6 percent). His numbers with the Flyers were off, but mostly because he took on more of a set-up role for Daniel Briere. Between the regular season and playoffs, Prospal scored seven goals on 74 shots (9.4 percent).

He returned to Tampa Bay this summer, where he'll likely return to a comfortable spot alongside Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis.

Alexei Kovalev, Montreal -- The Canadiens' forward had a career resurgence in 2007-08, piloting Montreal to the top spot in the Eastern Conference with a team-best 35 goals. He also was economical in his output, needing just 230 shots to reach his mark, giving him a career-best 15.2 shooting percentage.

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