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Luongo happy to have a lot of rest heading into second round

The Canadian Press

4/23/2009 9:46:49 PM

With the Canucks enjoying a break in the Stanley Cup playoffs, goaltender Roberto Luongo is taking in the rest of the action from the comfort of his own couch.

"I still do watch, because I enjoy playoff hockey," Luongo said Thursday during a conference call from Vancouver. "I like to watch games on TV. I was watching the Montreal game (Wednesday night), the Calgary game . . . I pretty much watch hockey every night during the playoffs."

The 30-year-old was sensational in Vancouver's first-round series against the St. Louis Blues, allowing just five goals as the Canucks earned their first best-of-seven sweep in franchise history. Luongo registered one shutout and had a .964 save percentage, sending the Blues packing in their first playoff appearance since 2004.

Vancouver, the conference's third seed, cannot face No. 1 San Jose or No. 8 Anaheim in the second round.

The Ducks pushed San Jose to the brink of elimination on Thursday with a 4-0 win and 3-1 series lead.

If Anaheim finishes off the Sharks, the No. 2 seeded Detroit Red Wings would become the highest-ranked team in the West and would face the Ducks in the second round.

Detroit swept the Columbus Blue Jackets in four straight games Thursday.

Depending how it all plays out, the Canucks will start the second round on the road against Red Wings -- but only if San Jose come back to beat Anaheim -- or host the winner of the Calgary Flames-Chicago Blackhawks series, which is currently tied at two.

And with the Flames and Blackhawks looking like they might go the distance, the Canucks could end up with as many as 11 days off.

Luongo shrugged off suggestions that Vancouver may be rusty for the start of the next round, saying the extra rest will do his team plenty of good.

"The great thing about the playoffs is that the adrenaline is always going to be there, whether you have two days off or 10 days off," said Luongo. "This is a good thing for our team. It'll give us some time to work on a lot of things.

"Once Game 1 starts, the excitement and adrenaline is going to be there just like where it left off."

It isn't the first time Luongo has spent an extended period of time away from the ice this season. The four-time all-star was limited to just 54 games this season after suffering a groin strain in November.

Luongo said the two layoffs can't be compared.

"They're two different things," said Luongo. "When I was injured, I wasn't skating for a long time, so that makes it really hard. This is totally different, because I'll be skating and practising and facing shots."

Luongo showed signs there might be something wrong during Tuesday's series-clinching 3-2 victory over St. Louis, getting up gingerly after a goalmouth scramble in which he prevented the Blues from taking the lead.

The Montreal native insisted it was merely a case of cramping brought on by dehydration.

"It was just dehydration, there were no injuries or anything like that," said Luongo. "I've heard a few people say that I was hurt, but it was just cramping issues so there's no problems whatsoever.

"(I'll) just take these couple of days to replenish myself, and back to work tomorrow."

Luongo wouldn't say which team he would like to face in the next round, even though a meeting with the Blackhawks or Flames would mean home-ice advantage for Vancouver in the second round.

"It doesn't matter who we face, that's for sure," said Luongo. "Obviously having home ice is a bit of an advantage . . . we wouldn't mind having home ice, that goes without saying. But whether we start at home or on the road, I think at this point, for our team, it won't really make a difference.

"It's pretty much out of our control anyway, so all we can do is sit and watch."