Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Eminger Out 8-10 Weeks, Woywitka Day-to-Day; Bickel, Erixon Recalled
Just when we thought the Rangers couldn't possibly be cursed with any additional injuries, along came Saturday night's game against the Phoenix Coyotes. Steve Eminger separated his shoulder after he was checked awkwardly into the boards, and Jeff Woywitka injured his left ankle while blocking a shot in the game. Eminger, who won't require surgery according to John Tortorella, will be out eight to 10 weeks, while Woywitka is "iffy" for tomorrow night's game in New Jersey and is day-to-day.
Following the injuries to both defensemen the Rangers recalled defensemen Stu Bickel and Tim Erixon, although originally Bickel was the only one recalled. My guess is that John Tortorella originally wanted a right-handed shot to replace Eminger in the lineup, and once they determined yesterday that Jeff Woywitka might be a no-go for tomorrow, they recalled Erixon.
Rangers fans know all they need to know already about Tim Erixon, but Stu Bickel is an unknown. Bickel, 24, has pretty much been a career minor leaguer, so it's really hard to say what we can expect from him. John Tortorella was impressed enough with him in training camp that he was one of the last few players optioned to Connecticut, but I think that was done more-so because the Rangers ideally wanted the younger kids like Pavel Valentenko and Tim Erixon to become more seasoned by playing in the minors. Four injuries to the Rangers' defensemen later, however, and here we are. The Rangers have managed to overcome the losses of Marc Staal and Michael Sauer so far, but losing an additional d-pairing will be even tougher to overcome. Bickel will give the Rangers some size (6'4", 207 lbs.) on the blueline, but beyond that it remains to be seen how Bickel looks against NHL competition.
Some more bad news that came from John Tortorella at practice today is that Michael Sauer (concussion) is still a while away from returning and only recently began working out lightly on his own. I'm guessing from that we're still a few weeks away from getting any sort of real update on Sauer's progress, but we'll see what happens.
Some good news did come out of practice today, though: Wojtek Wolski (groin) is "a week to 10 days away" from rejoining the lineup according to John Tortorella, and Marc Staal (concussion) actually participated in a full practice today, although his teammates reportedly knew not to make any contact with him whatsoever. Staal said he expectation is that he should be cleared for contact "in a few days." That would certainly be a gigantic step forward for Marc Staal's recovery process, but as we saw with Sidney Crosby, it's never safe to say someone is completely over a concussion until they're officially back - and even then it's not a given. The signs have certainly been positive lately for Staal, though, and assuming he continues to not suffer any other setbacks I don't think it's totally out of the realm of possibility that we could see him back before the end of January.