Stanley Cup 1998
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  Did You Know
The Washington Post
Thursday, June 11, 1998; Page E6

Capitals Logo
An NHL hockey puck would get a speeding ticket if it traveled around the Washington Beltway as fast as it hurtles toward a goaltender.

Hockey pucks move 45-50 miles per hour on a typical pass and 75-95 mph on a slap shot. The puck's temperature and constitution contribute to its speed.

Hockey pucks are made of vulcanized rubber and are 1 inch thick and 3 inches in diameter. Like some candy bars, they're best when frozen. So NHL rules require that pucks "shall be kept in a frozen condition."

The host team is responsible for supplying enough pucks for a game. Most teams freeze 50-60 pucks beforehand at about 20 degrees Fahrenheit and bring about 20 of those to the rink each period, where they're chilled in buckets of ice.

Obviously, a new puck is needed when one flies into the stands. But pucks get replaced when players skate over them because the blade often leaves a divot.

Pucks used for NHL games broadcast by Fox are unique. They're loaded with infrared sensors that enable special computers to track their movement and present the puck on-screen as a streaking comet, which helps viewers follow the action. Called FoxTrax, it borrows the technology employed by so-called "smart bombs."

It works like this: Each puck has a battery-powered transmitter inside that activates automatically when it hits the ice. The puck also has four sensors on its top surface, four on its bottom and 12 around its sides. As it travels across the ice, its motion is picked up by 18 sensors located around the rink, which send the data to computers.

The technology made its debut during the NHL's 1996 All-Star game in Boston. Fox broadcast Game 1 of the 1998 Stanley Cup finals and will also carry Games 5 and 7, if necessary.

In Tuesday's Game 1, only five pucks were needed in the first period, in which the Washington Capitals were held to six shots. Not many pucks went out of play in the period, and not many got chewed up by players' skates.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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