Rachunek out 3 to 4 weeks with sprained MCL

Updated: March 14, 2007, 9:24 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers are running out of games and healthy players in their push for the playoffs. Add Karel Rachunek to the list of injured regulars.

The veteran defenseman will be out three to four weeks after an MRI taken Wednesday revealed a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee. Rachunek was injured in the first period of the Rangers' 3-2 loss to Ottawa on Tuesday when he collided knee-to-knee with Senators center Jason Spezza.

That left the Rangers with only five defensemen, and Ottawa took advantage by scoring all three goals after he left the game.

Rachunek joins fellow defenseman Fedor Tyutin and forward Marcel Hossa, who also sustained MCL injuries in the past two weeks. The Rangers recalled defenseman David Liffiton from Hartford of the AHL on Wednesday.

New York, currently 11th in the Eastern Conference, fell out of a playoff spot Tuesday night after squandering a two-goal lead to the Senators. The Rangers visit Atlanta on Friday before facing Boston at home the following night.

The Rangers, who have 12 games left to try to get into the postseason for the second straight year, were already dealing with a depleted lineup before starting the rough month of March.

Brendan Shanahan has missed 12 games because of the concussion he sustained on Feb. 17 when he collided with Philadelphia Flyers forward Mike Knuble. Shanahan skated with the Rangers at practice on Tuesday and Wednesday for the first time since the injury and continues to show improvement.

His vertigo symptoms have diminished but there is still no timetable for his return. Shanahan is optimistic he will play again before the end of the season.

Hossa is expected to be out a few more weeks, while Tyutin might be able to return in two. Left wing Martin Straka is playing through a painful shoulder injury, and backup goalie Kevin Weekes is working his way back from a thigh injury sustained on Feb. 13 in practice.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press