- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 23, 2018

TAMPA — There is no doubt that the Washington Capitals are loose ahead of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.

At the team’s morning skate at Amalie Arena on Wednesday, the Capitals continued their new tradition of having someone take a “hot lap” around the rink to kick off a practice on the road. Usually, it has been Alex Ovechkin. But for Game 7, they changed it up.

It was not a player, but head coach Barry Trotz who took the hot lap.

Brett Connolly said Ovechkin had the idea to have Trotz do the honors, but the captain said it was a team decision.

“I look at it this way,” Trotz said. “Real simply, they called my number. At this time of year you’re all in.”

The Capitals are 7-2 on the road in these Stanley Cup Playoffs. But in their last trip to Tampa Bay, they lost to the Lightning 3-2 in Game 5. So perhaps this was the right time to change up the tradition.

Jay Beagle took the hot lap before a game in Columbus in the first round, which started the tradition. Ovechkin has done it since then.

“He looks alright,” Beagle said of Trotz, joking, “I saw him on the (trainer’s) table just now, getting some work done.”

Trotz went to one knee at the end of the lap to try to imitate Ovechkin’s move, and later admitted, “I almost bit it at the end.”

“I was a little bit worried about the turns because the rudders haven’t been sharpened all year,” Trotz said. “So you didn’t see a lot of crossovers there. I used body mass and weight to begin there. It was a little bit of a slow lap. But you’re all in this time of year.”

It was a 19-second lap, to be precise. Other players got a laugh out of it, too. Devante Smith-Pelly said Trotz’s main goal was not to fall over, and Connolly also joked about his skates.

“I don’t think he sharpens those things very often,” Connolly said. “But he did a good job. That’s kind of our group. We’re loose. We’ve been doing it all playoffs. We’re just having fun, just playing. He did a good job.”

Capitals Twitter also liked what they saw:

• Adam Zielonka can be reached at azielonka@washingtontimes.com.

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