Game of clinches

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:38 AM ET

MAGIC NUMBER The Flames need 5 PTS. to clinch a playoff berth.

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Work hard enough and you can find the Calgary Flames' magic number.

A low, single-digit magic number.

Five more points. Two wins and a game that goes into overtime.

That's how close they are to clinching a playoff spot.

Not that the Flames are interested in figuring out the permutations.

"That's too much thinking for us," quipped forward Shean Donovan.

"I don't think you can do that, anyway. We have seven games left, 14 points, and if we win, we take care of our own destiny.

"It's getting closer because the end of the season is coming quick but it's not too healthy or good to look at it that way.

"It's good for coaches to know and the media but, with seven games left, there's still a lot of games, a lot of hockey, you have to concentrate on. You can't look and think, 'If this team does this and this team does that.' "

Fans can, though, and the picture for the Flames is pretty rosy.

Holding top spot in the Northwest Division with 93 points heading into tonight's clash with Phoenix, the Flames can hit the 100-point milestone with a .500 record over their final seven games.

In comparison, the best the Los Angeles Kings (five games) could do is reach 97 points.

Vancouver (five games) can also only reach the 97-point mark by winning all of its remaining games.

Meanwhile, the best Edmonton (six games) can do is

100 points, while San Jose must win all eight contests left on the docket to reach 101.

Don't forget some of the teams chasing the Flames face each other.

For example, Vancouver and San Jose will square off in a home-and-home series, so at least one team won't finish the season perfectly.

Which means the Flames can officially punch a Stanley Cup playoff ticket before the weekend, if they can beat Phoenix tonight and Minnesota Friday and get a little help, as well.

"I don't want anyone else to do it for us," said Flames defenceman Bryan Marchment. "That way, it doesn't feel like you've earned it."

Forward Tony Amonte isn't thinking beyond tonight's game against Phoenix

(8 p.m., TSN).

"We've got a team that's been running pretty high the last while coming in," said Amonte, who'll try to snap a 30-game goal scoring drought.

Of course, simply making the playoffs isn't good enough, Marchment added.

"A lot of the guys look at the numbers but clinching isn't just been our goal," Marchment said.

"Detroit got off to a great start for our conference, so we won't catch them, but the division title would be a nice thing, for home-ice advantage in the first series.

"You look back to two years ago, home-ice advantage for the guys in this room would have been huge."

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CATCH 'EM IF YOU CAN!

If the Flames post a .500 record in their last seven games, and reach 100 points, here's what other teams will need to overtake Calgary in the standings:

NASHVILLE 7 points in 7 GR, .500*

ANAHEIM 9 points in 7 GR, .643*

COLORADO 11 points in 7 GR, .785

EDMONTON 12 points in 6 GR 1.000

VANCOUVER Couldn't overtake Flames

SAN JOSE 16 points in 8 GR, 1.000*

L.A. Couldn't overtake Flames

GR = games remaining, * Flames would finish ahead of Nashville, Anaheim, San Jose if Calgary won the Northwest Division title


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