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Alfredsson tops in East in man-down spots

by Brian Compton

Playing shorthanded is a task few players -- if any -- would welcome. In order to do it well, one must have incredible defensive instincts. One must have speed, patience and the willingness to get down and block a shot.

The Eastern Conference possesses more than a handful of players with all of the aforementioned abilities. Not surprisingly, the majority of these players wound up on teams that reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Here is's top five shorthanded performers in the Eastern Conference:

1. Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators -- The Sens' captain was phenomenal last season, as seven of his 40 goals in 2007-08 came with his team down a man.

One of the top defensive forwards in the game, Alfredsson's seven shorthanded goals tied him with Patrick Sharp of the Chicago Blackhawks for the most in the League. His plus-15 rating was good for third on the Senators.

2. Mike Richards, Philadelphia Flyers -- Despite his young age (23), Richards has already cemented himself as a leader and a fantastic defensive player in the City of Brotherly Love.

In his third full season in the NHL, Richards excelled. In fact, he set career highs in goals (28), assists (47), points (75) and plus/minus (plus-14). Five of his 28 goals came shorthanded, an indication Richards could be a Selke Trophy candidate for years to come. 

3. Richard Park, New York Islanders -- One of the most underrated defensive forwards in the League, the hard-working Park finished third in the East with four shorthanded goals last season.
A Ted Nolan favorite, Park's ice time could be altered under new coach Scott Gordon. But one could make the case Park is the best defensive forward the Isles have had since Michael Peca was traded in 2004.

4. John Madden, New Jersey Devils -- Known more for his defense, Madden's 20 goals last season were the most he's scored since he his 23-goal output in 2000-01.

Madden still thrived in defensive situations, as he three of his 20 tallies came shorthanded; he only had one shorthanded tally in 2006-07.

5. Derek Roy, Buffalo Sabres -- The 25-year-old shined in all situations last season, as he led the Sabres in points (81) and finished second with a plus-13 rating.

When the Sabres were down a man, Roy stepped up to the plate, as three of his 32 goals came shorthanded -- a career high.

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