BUFFALO - It didn't take long for Tom Renney's views about the Sabres not being the "cream of the crop" to reach Buffalo's locker room yesterday.

Whatever the New York Rangers coach's intentions were in making that comment a day earlier, the top-seeded Sabres made sure they interpreted it in the worst possible light.

"He better have respect for some guys in here," goalie Ryan Miller said. "Because if they approach it that we're not that good, it's going to bite them."

"I'm not going to get into a word match," added cocaptain Daniel Briere. "But it's good for our dressing room, definitely."

So much for the emotional edge the Sabres lacked in bouncing the New York Islanders in five games of their first-round series. Buffalo will host the Rangers tonight to open their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Renney did not back off from his statement yesterday.

"When asked what I thought about the Sabres, I answered it as I wasn't sure if they were the cream of the crop. But I do know one thing, they're an awfully good hockey club," Renney said. "But really, the Stanley Cup's handed out in the middle of June, not yesterday morning at a little press conference."

Canucks meet Ducks. The host Anaheim Ducks should be well-rested when they open their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series against the Vancouver Canucks tonight.

Anaheim has not played since Thursday after dispatching the Minnesota Wild in five games. The Canucks closed out their opening series with a 4-1 win over Dallas in Game 7 on Monday.

The series will feature outstanding goalies - the Canucks' Roberto Luongo and the Ducks' Jean-Sebastien Giguere and backup Ilya Bryzgalov.

"It should be a good series," Giguere said. "I think they have the best goaltender in the world right now, so it's going to be interesting to see."