The development of a Stanley Cup contender is a slow process at the best of times. When a team isn’t drafting in the top ten every year, the process becomes even longer. 

The Canadiens, because of their consistant middle-of-the-pack status, are one of those teams without benefit of high draft picks.  So,year by year, in Montreal, despite the impatience of fans and media, the best legitimate hope is for an incremental improvement process.

After fifty games this year, the Canadiens have given just that – incremental improvement over last season.  .

Overall, the Canadiens are nine points  better in the standings.  Last season at fifty games the Canadiens were a .500 team – 50 points in fifty games (23-23-4). Today they’re 27-18-5 and 59 points.

The areas of improvement are subtle. (See breakdown below)  Special teams are running about the same. Individual peformance is, for the most part, about the same but the Canadiens home ice record is markedly better and they’ve allowed twelve fewer goals.

One glaring difference is man-games-lost to injury. Last season at this time the Canadiens had lost 111. This year- 67. That’s 44 times that Jacques Martin didn’t have to pencil in a minor leaguer to fill a hole in his starting lineup.

As a result of all of these things combined, the team is seventh in the Eastern Conference as compared with twelfth last year at this point in time.

                                      Last Season                              This Season

Record                             23-23-4 = 50pts.                               27-18-5 = 59pts.

In The Standings      12th Eastern Conference                  7th Eastern Conference

Home Record             (11-11-3)                                                  (16-6-4)

Away Record              (12-12-1)                                                  (11-12-1)

Goals For/Against    128/139                                                  130/123

Power Play                 Ranked 2nd 24.5% (37/151)             11th 19.7% (35/178)

Penalty Killing          7th 84.2% (33/209)                              5th 84.2% (32/203)

Man Games Injury–    111 (Markov 35-Gionta 21)        67 (Markov 42-Gorges 13)      

Individuals

Michael Cammalleri             50g 22-18=40 plus-9                          44g 13-18=31 plus-6

Tomas Plekanec                    50g 11-37=48 plus-4                           49g 16-24=40 plus-10

Brian Gionta                           29g 13-9 =22 plus-2                            50g 16-9 =25 minus-3

Scott Gomez                           46g 6-26=32 minus-1                          48g 6-20=26 minus-9

Andrei Kostitsyn                   40g 10-14=24 plus-3                           49g 13-15=28 plus-12

Max Pacioretty                       49g 3-11=14 minus-5                           20g 6-5 =11 minus-6

Benoit Pouliot                         25g 8-3 =11 even                                   47g 10-11=21 plus-4

Carey Price                           32g (11-15-3) 2.68GAA .916%            45g (24-16-5) 2.36GAA .920%

Roster Changes – Gone from the roster of Jan.17, 2010 (Game #50) –  (8) Ryan O’Byrne, Glen Metropolit; Georges Laraque; Paul Mara, Matt D’Agostini, Maxim Lapierre, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Jaroslav Halak.   Not on Roster Jan. 17, 2010 – (10) Jeff Halpern, James Wiesniewski, Mathieu Darche, David Desharnais, Yannick Weber,  P.K. Subban, Lars Eller, Tom Pyatt, Alexandre Picard, Alex Auld.