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Golden Knights shrink magic number to clinch playoff berth

ANAHEIM, Calif. — When asked this week about the postseason, Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon started his response by saying it’s too early to answer, pointing out the team still needs to qualify for the playoffs.

With all due respect, the Knights are in. The only thing that’s missing is the ‘X’ next to their name in the standings indicating they’ve officially clinched.

The Knights can reduce their magic points number even further starting Friday when they open a two-game series against last-place Anaheim at Honda Center.

“I think we’re healthy. We’ve obviously got through the trade deadline. We’ve dropped a really good player (Mattias Janmark) into our lineup, which gives us some more depth,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “This is when you want to be playing your best hockey. It’s important down the stretch here.”

HockeyReference.com gives the Knights (29-11-2) a 100 percent probability of making the playoffs with 14 games remaining.

They became the fourth team to reach the 60-point mark with Wednesday’s victory at Los Angeles and are on pace for 116 points during an 82-game schedule.

A victory over the Ducks would be the Knights’ fifth straight. They also would join Colorado in the 30-win club.

The Knights will clinch a playoff berth once it is mathematically impossible for four teams in the West Division to finish with more points.

One team is already out. Anaheim (35 points in 44 games) has a maximum point total of 59 and is unable to catch the Knights even if it wins every remaining game.

The two-game sweep of Los Angeles this week means the Knights need seven points to put the Kings out of range. The best Los Angeles can do is finish with 66 points.

Arizona lost five in a row to fall out of a playoff spot and can finish with no more than 67 points. That’s reduced the Knights magic points number to eight against the Coyotes.

Slumping San Jose, which has dropped three straight, is next in range. The Sharks are maxed out at 68 points, and the Knights need nine points to ensure they’ll finish ahead of their rival.

The Knights host San Jose in a two-game series Monday and Wednesday and might be able to clinch a playoff spot on home ice depending on the results this weekend.

The magic point numbers will reduce by two points with every Knights victory and/or regulation loss by pursuing teams. A loss in overtime subtracts one point from the number needed to clinch.

“Every game is so important down the stretch here,” defenseman Nic Hague said. “That’s the best time of year, the playoffs. The hockey’s just so much fun. We’re going to try to put our foot on the gas here and keep going and finish as well as we can.”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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