2015 World Juniors Round-Robin Hotwash

Updated: January 11, 2018 at 3:22 am by Josh W

A “hotwash
is commonly used in the military and emergency response communities. It is a term used for after a mission or
activity to discuss happened, what went as planned and what should be
done differently next time. It’s more or less synonym for a postmortem or an after-action report.

With the World Juniors Round Robin having been completed on
the last day of 2014, with the calendar turning over we use those results to
seed the World Juniors Tournament that starts the road down towards the Gold
Medal match.

We can use analytics to look at how these teams have
performed and try and make predictions towards the gold medal match.


If you have been following the World Juniors at all you
would not be surprised by the above standings. They are the records and points for each team through the round
robin. The top 4 teams in each pool have
moved on to the tournament bracket. In
Group A Canada has clinched first with their win over the United States while
Sweden in Group B is the leader there. Germany and Switzerland are going to play a best-of-3 match-up to see
who will be relegated next year.

Anyone who is following this site knows there is more to
hockey than the standings and goals scored, especially in a small sample size,
so we look at the analytics of the tournament as tracked by CHLStats.com.

fancy standings

  • The United States appears to be the strong analytics team
    and had a 7% gap over Canada until the two teams met.
  • Canada is currently ranked as second best and despite having
    won their group they completely outmatched the United States in their one game.
  • Czech Republic in third place is a fairly surprising as they
    are not a team you would think of as in the top-3 given their second place
    finish in the weaker division.
  • Finland and Sweden, the top two analytics teams from the
    2014 World Juniors have fallen down the standings this year, not something they
    are too happy about.  Sweden won their
    division so it is not as much of an issue compared to Finland who just made the
    cut in Group A.
  • Switzerland in 6th place is a bit surprising to
    see them in the relegation round.  Having
    such terrible goaltending in their 4 games wont help them advance.
  • Russia dropping down to 7th in possession
    statistics do not bode well for their chances to make the gold medal game and
    is a huge drop in team strength expectations.
  • Denmark having won their first ever game in the World
    Juniors, and not having to risk relegation, are probably very happy with how
    they finish.
  • Germany in 9th place is a place higher than one
    would expect given how they have been playing while finishing with the worst
    PDO is something they will have to hope regresses in the next three games and
    quick or else face Division I next year.
  • Given that Slovakia finished 3rd in the toughest
    division and are the worst possession team in the tournament they are lucky
    just to not be relegated.  It goes to
    show that PDO can be a hell of a drug. 


In a short tournament having to play stronger teams is going
to hurt your chances of advancing. We
can measure the “Strength of Schedules” (SoS) for each team by looking at their
average differential of possession statistics for each team. 

Unsurprisingly the best teams are towards the
bottom while the weaker teams are at the top. Group A was definitely the harder group given it contained the top
two possession teams. 

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 10.55.30 PM

With knowing how strong the teams are we can start to make a
predictions on how the tournament part of the World Juniors will end. We know that in normal NHL hockey, where
parity is much higher and many more games are played, that luck factors into
around 40% of the results. In single
game elimination tournaments, however, PDO Kills.

A great example of this was at the 2014 Winter Olympics in the
Women’s Ice Hockey tournament. The
United States was clearly best team, both analytically and with the “eye
test”. This mattered little when lucky
bounces off the goalposts and a goaltender standing on her head caused Canada
to emerge the gold medalists. The bounces dominate in smaller samples.

In the relegation round between Germany and Switzerland, the
latter has been the clear-cut better team and should emerge to return next
year. Both teams have had similar PDO
with Switzerland posting a .850 Save Percentage while Germany has had a 2.38%
shooting percentage. One of these teams
has to regress while facing the other. In the first game head-to-head these two teams were much closer in possession estimates but Switzerland came ahead.   

The first day of the playoff round saw three of my four predictions wrong. Czech Republic was ranked higher than Slovakia and was predicted to win. These two teams fought a somewhat close game but ultimately Slovakia had the percentages and was able to emerge the victors to advance.

Russia and the US was another tight game during the close situations. The US was the most dominant team heading into the playoff round but with their undisciplined play and the high number of power plays given to Russia it was no surprise to see the Russians walk away as the victors. During the third period with score effects taking over the US showed their dominance but could not get the needed goal to tie up the game.

Sweden and Finland were a similar story with two teams being close in possession and the game being quite close, ultimately Sweden was able to get their revenge on Finland from last years Gold Medal Match and win the game to advance to the Semi-Finals.

As we look forward we see a Canada and Slovakia matchup. After 5 games Canada is currently posting a 64.04% estimated fenwick close while Slovakia is 9th in the tournament with a 37.62%. It would be a shock to see Canada eliminated.  

The other game would feature Russia (46.84% – 7th) and Sweden (54.77% – 5th). This game will be closer than Canada and Slovakia but it’s likely that Sweden will emerge to face Canada in the Gold Medal Match.