Shrapnel - 12/31/11

If there's anything else you wanted to do in 2011, you'd better get on it right now.

For the Jackets, 2011 has not been a terribly kind year, but there's the hope for a fresh start as we count down the final hours to 2012.

Unfortunate news out of last night's Capitals / Sabres game - Buffalo's Christian Ehrhoff suffered an upper body injury that will keep him out of their lineup for "weeks".

We tend to think of ourselves as the only team suffering through a nightmare season, but I suspect that we and the fans in the First Niagara Center have more than a few things in common. Both teams made big moves in the offseason, but had ownership express a clear desire to win, and both have been profoundly let down thanks to injuries, shaky goaltending, and pure bad luck. One could imagine Terry Pegula and J.P. Mac having a stiff drink and solid bitching session about the rigors and uncertainties that come with trying to build a winning NHL club.

Meanwhile, the rest of the NHL buzzes with excitement as we near the event that has come to mark the turning of the year: The Winter Classic is almost here. Even better, this year's matchup will come with some high stakes attached, meaning that picking teams for the next edition is going to be a serious challenge.

Puck-Rakers has an update on Wiz's ankle, expanded on in the main Dispatch article, and the Jackets Notebook focuses on Steve Mason getting back to the win column.

Puck Daddy has a list of the best players of 2011, a conversation with Jarome Iginla on his search for goal #500, a guide to tonight's USA / Canada WJC matchup, Eric Lindros talking about being back in Philly, and the 2011 ornament contest winners.

Jeff Little offers some thoughts on improvements and challenges, Jack Edwards explains why he's not a fan of Steve Ott, Backhand Shelf takes a look at what's going on with P.K. Subban, and Ryan Lambert wonders what Scott Howson has been doing all this time.

Have a happy new year, and above all please be responsible tonight for your sake and the sake of others.

Go Jackets!

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