Video: ‘Goon: Last of the Enforcers’ trailer brings the dumb fun


“Goon: Last of the Enforcers” lists the reasons for its R rating, and in all honesty, it sounds like an apt plot summary (judging by the trailer):

R for pervasive language, crude sexual content and bloody sports violence

Yeah, that about covers it, right?

This sequel seems to bring more of what fans loved from the first movie, as it once again features Seann William Scott while being written and directed by big-time Habs fan Jay Baruchel.

For hockey nerds, there should be plenty of appearances from current players (highlights include Tyler Seguin and Michael Del Zotto), although the best line of the trailer was probably dropped on former enforcer George Parros. That’s no way to treat an Ivy Leaguer.

The movie releases On Demand and on Digital HD on Sept. 1, then comes to DVD at the more hockey-season-friendly date of Oct. 3. Maybe its Rotten Tomatoes score will play the role of the scrappy underdog and turn things around by the time the release date nears?

Flyers re-sign Stolarz to one-year, two-way contract


The Philadelphia Flyers announced a trio of signings on Saturday evening, signing goalies Anthony Stolarz and Alex Lyon, as well as forward Cole Bardreau to two-way contracts.

Stolarz and Lyon signed one-year contracts, while Bardreau ended up getting a two-year deal.

Stolarz is probably the most prominent player out of that group given that he is the youngest of the three and is the only one to have actually played in the NHL to this point, appearing in seven games this past season. He played quite well in his limited look, posting a .928 save percentage.

Even with that brief success this past season general manage Ron Hextall was not exactly confident entering the season with Stolarz as Michael Neuvirth’s platoon partner in net given the inexperience of the former and the injury history of the latter. He instead opted to sign veteran Brian Elliott in free agency, which means Stolarz will start the season in the American Hockey League for a fourth consecutive season, barring injury to one of the two veterans ahead of him on the depth chart.

He has a .910 save percentage in 104 starts for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms over the past three seasons, including a .911 mark this past season.

Lyon, playing in his first year of pro-hockey this past season, ended up starting the majority of the games for the Phantoms and posted similar numbers.


Wiercioch, an analytics darling, needs to find aggressive side in Vancouver


Patrick Wiercioch is one of those guys who looks good on a spreadsheet.

But the question still remains — is he a good hockey player?

Wiercioch, a 26-year-old defenseman, has long been touted in the analytics community as an undervalued asset. During his time with the Ottawa Senators, it caused a few good debates between the numbers folks and the more traditional eyeball testers.

The Sens eventually chose to cut ties with Wiercioch, leaving him an unrestricted free agent. He spent last year with Colorado. Then, on July 1, he signed a one-year deal with Vancouver.

It’s a low-risk move for the Canucks, who also signed Michael Del Zotto after losing Luca Sbisa in the expansion draft. To have success, Wiercioch has been told he needs to play with more aggression.

And that’s often the case with these analytics darlings. They’re good when they have the puck; they move it well and contribute to the attack, and that’s valuable.

But a big part of a defenseman’s job is actually getting the puck. That means winning battles, and winning them quickly.

“Honestly, it’s just a mentality,” Wiercioch told The Province. “It’s your stick and body position and engaging earlier. I’ve always been able to have good position in reading the play well, but I need to just do it sooner and having that mindset that the quicker you get it done, the quicker you get to the fun part — stuff that comes naturally and is easier.”

This is perhaps Wiercioch’s last shot to stick in the NHL.

In September, he’ll turn 27, and his salary is right close to the league minimum.

Flyers sign Scott Laughton to two-year deal


The Philadelphia Flyers took care of one of their RFA concerns on Tuesday, signing forward Scott Laughton to a two-year contract.

The specifics are unclear for Laughton, 23, who was the 20th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft.

After enjoying his best year at the NHL level in 2015-16 (21 points in 71 games), Laughton only appeared in two contests for the Flyers in 2016-17. He did manage a solid run in the AHL, if nothing else, generating 19 goals and 39 points in 60 games.

In 109 regular-season games, Laughton’s only averaged 11:08 TOI per night, so it’s clear that he still has a ways to go to really earn the Flyers’ trust.

Flyers GM Ron Hextall has stated that he’d prefer young players to step into roles rather than seeing veteran free agents take those spots. Perhaps Laughton can be one of those young players?

Goaltending may finally be strength for Winnipeg Jets


The Ondrej Pavelec era in Winnipeg is – mercifully – over.

Seeing the regularly underwhelming netminder leave for the Rangers isn’t the only reason why the Jets’ goaltending situation looks as promising as it ever has been. With the addition of Steve Mason and the possible ascension of Connor Hellebuyck, this franchise hasn’t enjoyed this kind of optimism in net since … what, the Atlanta Thrashers days? Ever?

Now, it’s worth noting that goalies are notoriously tough to predict. Mason himself struggled in 2016-17, which was a big reason why the Philadelphia Flyers let him walk in the first place.

Still, the big picture seems as promising as ever for the Jets, at least from a goaltending perspective.

Even with last season in mind, Steve Mason’s managed a .928 even-strength save percentage since his first full season with Philly in 2013-14. That ties him for 10th place among goalies who’ve played at least 50 games, tying him with Henrik Lundqvist, Tuukka Rask, and Roberto Luongo.

Hellebuyck is the other Jets goalie who’s been strong in that area, managing a .924 even-strength save percentage, giving the impression that he could at least be an above-average backup.

If even-strength save percentage is a little too specific for you, Mason managed an excellent .918 save percentage during his time with the Flyers. Such numbers give the impression that the Jets have a good chance at getting top-10 goaltending, a refreshing thought for a franchise that’s been hung out to dry one too many times, particularly with Pavelec in net.

Could the Mason – Hellebuyck combo stand as the missing piece(s) for Winnipeg? The Jets made hearty investments in their defense and boast an underrated offensive attack, inspiring hope that this middling team might finally make a big step forward.

Heck, they might even finally win a playoff game.

“I’m just really excited to be a part of an organization that’s in the right direction,” Mason said after the signing, via the Canadian Press. “I believe that I can be a piece that helps get this team over the hump, here.”

Granted, the Jets still need to hash out an RFA deal with Hellebuyck and figure out what to do with Michael Hutchinson, who has a year remaining on his contract (and generally seems to have a lower ceiling).

Still, if the Jets can get a few more ducks in a row, things could rapidly look very promising. What a difference a couple of promising goalies can make.