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Eminger out 8 weeks with separated shoulder

12/19/2011

The Rangers' defense, already without Marc Staal and Mike Sauer, lost another important piece in the team's costly 3-2 win over Phoenix Saturday.

27-year-old defenseman Steve Eminger will miss eight weeks with a separated right shoulder; Eminger suffered the injury when Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal drove him into the boards during the first period.

Paired with fellow defenseman Michael Del Zotto in Sauer's absence, Eminger had been playing some of his best hockey of late.

"It hurts," coach John Tortorella said. "He's a gamer. He brought some physical play to our back end. He never stands out, but he gets in the way. And he does a lot of good things for us."

The loss is just another for a Rangers' blue line that has been decimated by injuries in the first quarter of the season.

"We'll miss him, but having said that we've had injuries all year long, especially at that position, we just go about our business and play," Tortorella said.

Replacing Eminger in the lineup Tuesday will be Stu Bickel, recalled from the team's minor-league affiliate in Hartford, CT.

The 6-4, 218-pound Bickel brings size and physicality to the back end. The 25-year-old has one goal, three assists and 80 penalty minutes in 27 games for the Connecticut Whale this season.

Bickel's strong performance in training camp this September earned him a surprise spot among the players brought over to Europe. He was one of the last cuts made before rosters were finalized.

"He had a really good camp," Tortorella said. " I didn't know too much about him and he played well. He's done some good things down there -- he's a physical guy and he sticks up for his teammates -- so we'll see."

Defensive prospect Tim Erixon, who accompanied the team as an extra defensemen on their recent trip out West, will be recalled again as well.

Jeff Woywitka (ankle/foot), who left practice early Monday, is questionable for Tuesday. Erixon will play if Woywitka cannot.