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Canucks have no preference in Round 3

by Dan Rosen / Vancouver Canucks

Roberto Luongo would like to formally submit a request to the Sharks and Red Wings on behalf of his own team.

"Two quadruple overtimes and call it a day," Vancouver's goaltender joked after he made 23 saves to finish Nashville with a 2-1 win in Game 6 of the teams' Western Conference Semifinal on Monday.

OK, maybe Luongo is asking for a bit much, but it sure is nice for him and the Canucks that they are the ones who get to park their tired butts on couches Tuesday to watch San Jose and Detroit battle for the right to play them in the Western Conference Finals.

The Sharks lead the best-of-seven series 3-2, but the Red Wings have battled back from a 3-0 deficit to force Game 6.

"Yeah, with a smile on our face," Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said when asked if he'd be watching San Jose and Detroit on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET., VERSUS, TSN, RDS). "We don't really care. It's two good teams again. We've been through two good teams already. We'll see. It's going to be long flights anyway, and we'll take whoever we get."

If regular-season success means anything -- it usually doesn't at this time of year -- the Canucks shouldn't have a preference on which team they face in their first Western Conference Finals since 1994. They were 3-0-1 against the Sharks and 2-0-2 against the Wings. They outscored San Jose 15-9, and held a 13-11 advantage against Detroit.

Henrik Sedin had 7 points against San Jose and 5 against Detroit. Daniel Sedin had 6 points against each team. Luongo had a 0.96 goals-against average in two starts against the Sharks and a 2.66 GAA in four starts against the Red Wings.

"We had a lot of (regular season) success against Chicago in past years, too, and they've still beaten us in the playoffs," Henrik Sedin said. "It doesn't really matter."

Neither does the travel, according to coach Alain Vigneault.

Clearly it would be easier on the Canucks' bodies if they played the Sharks because they'd be in the same time zone and the flights are only about two hours long. If it's Detroit, they'd be crossing three time zones on a 4 1/2 hour haul in their charter plane.

"I think that's overrated," Vigneault said. "We travel the most. We're used to it. We've done everything where science can help you to make sure our guys are fresh and energized, and to tell you the truth, we're just used to it."

The Canucks also are used to the pressure of being the favorites, which they will be again regardless of who they play.

Vancouver nearly buckled under it against Chicago and that's why that series went seven games after the Canucks took a 3-0 lead. They were one game away from going through the same mental ringer against Nashville, but Monday they showed that killer instinct and closed out the Predators with a strong third period.

"We're going to take these past two series and learn from them, and just from years past, too," Ryan Kesler said. "We're going to learn from everything."

It just would be nice if they can have a few extra days to study. But that's all up to the Red Wings.

"We are going to meet a real strong opponent," Vigneault said, "so a few days off won't hurt."

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