Barry Trotz knew it was coming, and the coach of the Washington Capitals couldn't let his players down.
Before each road playoff game, someone from the team takes a "hot lap" prior to the morning skate. Before Washington's Game 7 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final, that person was Trotz.
The Capitals won't have a morning skate before Game 1 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final in Las Vegas against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS), so the ritual was moved to practice Sunday. But there was no question who would get the call.
The smirks on the faces of the players said it all.
"I was like the last guy out there today. All of a sudden it got quiet and I was I was coming up into the tunnel, I didn't see anybody skating. And then, all these big smiles of about 30 people with their smirks on their face, I knew I was committed to it," Trotz said during Media Day. "I knew right away they just all smiled and I said 'OK I got it.' Just like I said to the players, this time of year, your number gets called, you gotta be ready for it."
Captain Alex Ovechkin nominated Trotz to do the lap at the morning skate before Game 7 against the Lightning. Ovechkin had done the lap leading up to the previous three games after Brett Connolly initially started the trend.
Trotz did well with the encore performance, at least in his own estimation.
"I was just trying to get a couple of pucks out of the way so I didn't go crashing into the boards," Trotz said. "I made it around. And what was my time? Was it better? It felt better, so I can tell you that."
The Capitals appreciated Trotz's second lap too.
"Let's say I was impressed with his effort," forward Lars Eller said.
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