Roman Hamrlik, Stu Bickel and Matt Gilroy competing for sixth defenseman spot

Stu Bickel stops Brandon Sutter #16 of the

Stu Bickel stops Brandon Sutter #16 of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the third period of a game at Madison Square Garden. (Jan. 20, 2013) (Credit: Getty)

WINNIPEG -- Roman Hamrlik played Thursday night, but the sixth defenseman's role still is up for grabs.

John Tortorella said Steve Eminger has earned the fifth spot, but the other three players -- Hamrlik, 38, Stu Bickel and Matt Gilroy -- are competing for the remaining spot.

"It's crucial that someone steps up in the 5-6 spot," Tortorella said. "When you lose a guy like Marc Staal [on injured reserve with an eye injury] and you have guys playing minutes that they're not used to playing, we'd really like to try to get a rotation of six D playing, but we also have to try to win every night.

"We have a few guys looking to take that spot. I would say Emmy has played well enough to be in the five, but we'd like to get six playing, especially with the amount of games that we have here."

The Rangers play in Pittsburgh Friday, their first of four games in six days.

Hamrlik shaping up

Hamrlik, claimed off waivers from the Capitals March 6, played two games before being scratched for two. He has been working on his conditioning with assistant coach Jim Schoenfeld. Hamrlik said they have been "some of the most intense [sessions] I've ever had."

Henrik handling it

Henrik Lundqvist, stickhandler? For most of his career, he has been reluctant to venture out of the net to clear pucks, but he's trying it more often. "I think Marty's rubbing off on him a little," Tortorella said, referring to backup goalie Martin Biron. "He's made some really good plays. His main focus has to be to stop the puck. I don't want to see him step out of himself, but certainly when you have a goaltender who moves the puck, it creates problems for a forechecking team."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

NHL videos

advertisement | advertise on newsday