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Offense | Defense | Goaltending | Special Teams | Coaching

SI's Pierre McGuire Ranks the Defense
New Jersey Devils 1 Deep unit; return of coach Robinson makes them best
Dallas Stars 2 No team blocks more shots; unit smothers down low
Detroit Red Wings 3 Lidstrom and Chelios lead deep and talented corps
Buffalo Sabres 4 Top four, led by Zhitnik, among the league's best
Boston Bruins 5 Bourque leads a young, talented group
Ottawa Senators 6 Top group led by Redden; breakout year for Phillips
St. Louis Blues 7 Pronger and MacInnis are powerhouses
Philadelphia Flyers 8 Solid core, enhanced by a good system
Colorado Avalanche 9 Critical that Miller and Foote take another step up
Mighty Ducks of Anaheim 10 Newcomers Havelid, Vishnevski should help unit
Phoenix Coyotes 11 This unit needs to be much more physical
Pittsburgh Penguins 12 Penguin system makes no-name defense work well
San Jose Sharks 13 Should be less mistake-prone in own zone with Suter
Edmonton Oilers 14 Poti, Smith, Laflamme will thrive under new coaches
Washington Capitals 15 Mental game needs to catch up to physical skills
Florida Panthers 16 Addition of Pitlick big for the backline
Los Angeles Kings 17 Addition of Aki Berg will enhance backline
Montreal Canadiens 18 Losing the injured Malakhov hurts thin group
Carolina Hurricanes 19 Chaisson will be missed; youngsters must improve
New York Rangers 20 Older group with skill, but can be forechecked easily
Toronto Maple Leafs 21 Unit gives up too many odd-man rushes
Calgary Flames 22 Sometimes too aggressive for its own good
Chicago Blackhawks 23 Mironov is fast and skilled; McCabe brings toughness
Vancouver Canucks 24 Unit needs to tighten its down-low coverage
Nashville Predators 25 This unit is tough but not overly skilled
Tampa Bay Lightning 26 Kubina is a horse; other youngsters need to improve
Atlanta Thrashers 27 Lots of guys with too many miles on the odometer
New York Islanders 28 Young group may be solid in a couple of years

Offense | Defense | Goaltending | Special Teams | Coaching

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