Sunday, 4 November 2012

Digging Into The Science

If there's one thing that I can appreciate about the Discovery Channel, it's that the network is still somewhat committed to science and discovery. They still have shows on about science, and not every show is some ridiculous reality-based program. The one host that seems to follow the idea of science on the network is Jay Ingram, and he hosted Scoring With Science on Sunday night. I happen to think that the science behind hockey is very under-reported, so I hunkered down in front of the ol' television set to take in Jay's findings.

Before we get to the show itself, I would like to say something about Discovery Channel's promotion of this show. Discovery Channel sent The Hockey Show an electronic press release a couple of weeks ago. I spoke with a gentleman (whose name I won't use here) in a couple of emails back and forth about getting a chance to speak with Mr. Ingram with regards to his findings in the show before the show had aired. What this publicist sent back to me was a little insulting considering they had reached out to us. He wrote,
"Figuring out if I have time for college radio. Thanks for reaching out. I will advise by end of day on status of this junket."
And then he promptly never followed up with me. Well done, publicist. I'll be making sure that any future publicity opportunities you wish to have me speak about are handled with the same professionalism.

I'm not holding this against Mr. Ingram, so I decided to tune in tonight to see the science that Mr. Ingram was investigating. Honestly, he did some pretty good work, and viewers got to see where a lot of the hockey vernacular comes from in terms of sticks, skates, and the science that goes into these.

While waiting for commercials to end, I was searching the Discovery Channel site and they actually had a pile of web extras already up during the airing of the show! There is a drawback, though - there are a load of commercials between each web extra. I can't change that, and I apologize, but it will give you a great idea of exactly what Scoring With Science was about in terms of the program.

There's a segment on real analytics in hockey where they show the Edmonton Oilers asking an analyst a number of questions regarding shootout shooters. This segment was interesting, but the portion about pulling the goaltender was even better! In a study done by David Beaudoin from Laval University and Tim Swartz from Simon Fraser University, they actually nail down the precise time to pull the goalie based on the game situation! The study is very in-depth, and it absolutely deserves to be read by any and all hockey fans!

Scoring With Science also looked at the ice itself in terms of what makes it slippery. This physical look at the surface is pretty neat when you consider that it is not the ice that limits how far a slapshot travels!

There's a segment about Gary Roberts and his intense training ideas that have helped players like Stephen Weiss and Steven Stamkos become better NHL players. Roberts speaks about how "too many beers and chicken wings" nearly ended his NHL career at age 27. Instead, proper training and nutrition allowed him to come back and play until 43. Roberts shows that the players get two weeks off at the end of the season before jumping right back into training for the following season, essentially tuning the body to perform at its highest level at all times. It's an interesting concept, to be sure, and one that seems to be paying dividends for his students.

Overall, Scoring With Science was a pretty decent program, but I think it needed to be expanded into a multiple-episode series where each of the individual topics of equipment, analytics, and the overall science of the game could be explored. In saying this, though, I thought Mr. Ingram did a great job in exploring some good hockey topics and extracting the science from them.

Count me in as a fan, and I hope that Discovery Channel does more shows like this. Here's hoping they'll have "time for college radio" next time as well.

MO' BRO: We've seen three forwards added to the ranks of the Mo' Bro All-Star team in Mike Gartner, Wendel Clark, and Dirk Graham. If your team is only as good as its goaltenders, we have our first moustachioed goaltender to add to the team.

Grant Fuhr is one of the most decorated goaltenders of all-time in hockey circles. He is a five-time Stanley Cup champion with the Edmonton Oilers, as seen to the left. He was the 1988 Vezina Trophy winner. He and Dominik Hasek shared the 1994 William M. Jennings Trophy. He was named to six NHL All-Star Games. He won two Canada Cups. He holds the NHL record for assists by a goaltender with 14. He set the record for consecutive starts in one season with 76, and played a record 79 games in one season. And as you may have noticed, he had one heck of a moustache.

While Fuhr's moustache has now evolved into a goatee, he sported the upper lip fuzz for his time with the Oilers and beyond. If five Stanley Cups doesn't warrant inclusion on the Mo' Bro All-Star team, what will? If you want to get in on the action, head over to the Movember page and get registered so your 'stache can stand amongst these great 'staches!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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