The puck stops here

KEN WIEBE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

Now that he knows what's on the post-season menu, Roberto Luongo can't wait for a return engagement.

Luongo, 28, advanced to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in his NHL career during his first season with the Vancouver Canucks and now he has his sights on bigger and better things.

"I think we want to take it to the next level," Luongo said during a conference call. "As far as the team is concerned, we were proud of what we accomplished last year because not a lot of people put us in that situation.

"Now that we've been there, we've had a taste of it. We want to take the next step, which would be obviously trying to win the Stanley Cup. We know there's a lot of hard work to be done. We're in a tough division. At the same time we know that we have the capability as far as talent in the locker room and character to do it."

Luongo, who was acquired from the Florida Panthers on the eve of the 2006 NHL entry draft, made sure his first playoff run was a memorable one.

Among the highlights was a 72-save performance in a 5-4 quadruple overtime victory over the Dallas Stars during the first round of the playoffs.

After knocking off the Stars, the Canucks were ousted by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks in double overtime of Game 5 in the Western Conference semi-final.

"It was a great experience, that's for sure. Something that I'll never forget and look forward to having many more of," said Luongo. "I think what I've learned is more of something that involved the playoffs and not really something that involved the regular season. All I can bring to this season from last year is the excitement, the feeling you have when you're in the playoffs. It just gets you more revved up to have a good year and make sure that you're part of it again."

Luongo was brilliant last season, posting 48 wins (tied for second most in NHL history) and finishing second in Hart Trophy voting to Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby.

The Montreal product appeared in 76 games and is expected to shoulder much of the load again this season.

Going to a place often referred to as a goalie graveyard proved to be no problem for Luongo.

"It went pretty easy," Luongo said. "It wasn't a big adjustment at all. As far as hockey-wise, I think the main thing is to learn a bit about the shooters in the west, guys I didn't get to see very often."

Having a guy like Luongo between the pipes gives a team a great deal of confidence.

"Obviously, a lot of people are saying a lot of good things about Roberto and they're all warranted," said Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa. "He's an extremely hard worker and he's one of the best goalies in the league. But still he goes out there and tries to get better every day.

"He's usually one of the first guys out on the ice and working on his game. Even in practice, he doesn't like to get beat."

ROBERTO LUONGO

Age: 28

Born: April 4, 1979, Montreal

Position: Goalie

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 206 pounds

Drafted: Fourth overall in the 1997 NHL entry draft by the New York Islanders

Career notes: On June 23, 2006, Luongo was traded by the Florida Panthers with Lukas Krajicek and a sixth-round pick to the Vancouver Canucks for Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan Allen and Alex Auld; on June 24, 2000, Luongo was traded by the Islanders with Olli Jokinen to the Panthers for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha

NHL numbers: Regular season -- 417 games played, 162 wins, 190 losses, 48 ties, 32 shutouts, 2.63 goals against average and .919 save percentage. Playoff record -- 12 games played, five wins, seven losses, 1.77 goals against average and .941 save percentage


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