The Rangers' top defenseman, Marc Staal, who has been suffering from concussion-related headaches, will not join the club in Stockholm for their first two regular-season games Friday and Saturday.

After the Rangers ended their preseason schedule with an 8-4 loss to EV Zug in Switzerland Monday, coach John Tortorella said Staal, 24, will stay in New York to work with doctors. He said Staal will not be placed on injured reserve yet. Staal, who has received acupuncture treatment during training camp and neurological tests, skated Friday and Saturday with the AHL Connecticut Whale after seeing specialists for several days, including a Buffalo doctor who gave him a cortisone shot in his neck.

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The 6-4 defenseman, who logged the fourth-most ice time (25:44) per game last season, was concussed Feb. 22 by a high hit from his brother, Eric, who plays for Carolina. He sat out three games, returned, then missed two more in March. He played in the first round of the playoffs but went 0-1-1 and was a minus-3 as the Rangers lost to Washington in five games.

The headaches began during workouts this summer, Staal said during training camp, and as a precaution, he did not participate in any scrimmages or games. The team said he passed baseline tests twice, once in March, and at the beginning of camp in mid-September.

"Marc continues to work with his people [in New York] and he's not coming on the trip . . . He continues to work with the doctors, so we thought it was best to leave him alone right now," Tortorella said.

Staal, who was 7-22-29 and a plus-8 in 77 games last season, has not had any contact in practice. The Rangers' third game is Oct. 15 against the Islanders, which would give him another 11 days to continue his recovery.

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The Rangers have seven defensemen in Europe: Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Del Zotto, Steve Eminger, Brendan Bell, Stu Bickel and Michael Sauer (recovering from a week-old shoulder sprain). Tortorella has said that the front office is looking at possible additions.