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Morning Skate: When did the Penguins turn into playoff bullies?

Seriously, when?

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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Lace 'em up. Time for the Morning Skate.

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COERCED PATIENCE

Essentially, the Washington Capitals already have so much of their biggest season milestones locked up. They're going to the playoffs and undoubtedly will win the Presidents' Trophy with the most points in the NHL (they're 12 points clear of the second-place Dallas Stars). But on Sunday they could've cleaned up their last bit of business before resting for the playoffs: clinching the Metropolitan Division crown.

But they needed a win to do so, and they happened to need it against the biggest buzz saw in the NHL right now. The Pittsburgh Penguins rolled right up to the Capitals, shoved them around a bit, took their moment and ran away in a 6-2 rout.

They've been doing that a lot lately. Pittsburgh has outscored opponents 24-11 in a six-game win streak that's catapulted them from the brink of the wild card hunt to a comfortable second place in the Metro with nine games remaining. It's almost like their dismal first half never happened. It's almost like Evgeni Malkin's absence hasn't slowed them down one bit.

It's almost like they're the scariest team heading into the playoffs. That's some bad first round news for the two teams from New York.

WHAT HAPPENED LAST NIGHT

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