The Capitals are on the road for the first time this postseason which means the return of an important tradition: the hot lap.
The hot lap was a staple of Washington’s Stanley Cup run in 2018 and it made its triumphant return on Monday at the morning skate as the Caps prepare for Game 3 in Raleigh.
What is a hot lap and why does it matter? For those of you new to Caps hockey or who need a refresher from last year’s run, here are three big things you need to know.
What is a hot lap?
Before the morning skate can begin on the road, a player or coach has to take a lap around the rink similar to the fastest skater competition. The rest of the team will stand and wait until that player finishes before skating out.
How did the hot lap get started?
The tradition was started during the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs by Jay Beagle. Beagle became impatient waiting for the ice to freeze after a run by the Zamboni. As the rest of his teammates looked on, he decided to skate out and take a lap. Beagle kept up the tradition after that and Washington would go on to win its first four road playoff games.
The Caps finished with a 10-3 record away from Washington in the postseason and won the Stanley Cup in Vegas. As a result, the tradition stuck.
Who does the hot lap?
The team gets to decide, but once your number is called, you have the honor until the team loses on the road. Beagle did it until Washington lost Game 4 in Pittsburgh and then it was Ovechkin's turn. After the Caps lost Game 5 in Tampa Bay, Barry Trotz was the next man up. He would hand it over to Lars Eller after a Game 1 loss in Vegas.
As the team begins the tradition anew for 2019, it was the captain whose number was called on Monday.
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