TAMPA -- Coach Barry Trotz is doing whatever he can to help the Washington Capitals defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final at Amalie Arena on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN1, TVAS) and reach the Stanley Cup Final.
That included stepping up to do the Capitals "hot lap" before the start of their morning skate Wednesday.
The "hot lap" - a full-speed lap around the rink - has become part of the Capitals morning skate routine on the road in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They are 7-2 away from home this postseason, but after they lost 3-2 in Game 5 here Saturday, forward Alex Ovechkin nominated Trotz to do the lap Wednesday.
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"That came out of nowhere," said Trotz, 55. "Obviously, we had to change it. We lost here last time. Put it this way: Real simply, they called my number. At this time of year, you're all in. I was ready. I was surprised."
Center Jay Beagle started the tradition during the Capitals' first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and they won their first four road games of the playoffs. After a 3-1 loss in Game 4 of the second round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ovechkin took over for Game 6 of the series at Pittsburgh, and Washington won 2-1 in overtime to advance to the conference final for first time since 1998.
The Capitals then won the first two games against the Lightning at Amalie Arena, so Ovechkin continued to do the hot lap until they lost Game 5. With a new skater needed again, the Washington captain said it was "a team idea" for Trotz to do it, but forward Brett Connolly said Ovechkin suggested it.
"It was Ovi's idea to ask Trotz if he wanted to do it," Connolly said. "He checked his skates to see how sharp they were. I don't think he's sharpened those things very often, but he did a good job."
Beginning at the blue line by the visiting bench, Tortz took off in a counter-clockwise direction. With the Capitals players cheering and banging their sticks, Trotz slowed during the turns behind each net, but showed some speed on the straightaways.
"It was pretty fast," Ovechkin said. "He was good."
When Trotz reached the blue line to complete his lap, he dropped down to one knee, imitating how Ovechkin finished his "hot laps." Trotz nearly fell after that, but was able to regain his balance.
"I was worried about the turns," Trotz said. "The rudders haven't been sharpened all year. So, you didn't see a lot of crossovers there. I used body mass and weight. It was a bit of a slow lap, but you're all in.
"They call your number, you step up to the plate. Got to do it. I appreciate it. Obviously, we're pretty loose. I almost bit it at the end there trying to imitate Ovi."
When asked about determining how fast he was going, Trotz joked, "You need a sun dial for me."
"Once he got going, he had some speed for sure," Connolly said. "It's all in good fun."
The Capitals got down to the business of their morning skate after that, but showed no signs of being nervous about having a chance to earn a date with the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final.
"Everybody recognizes the importance of the game," Trotz said. "Great opportunity, not only for our team but the other team. It's an experience that 40 players and two organizations are going to have today. You'll leave everything out there. If you do that, you won't have any regrets, no matter what."
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