Top Goalies of the 2015 World Juniors

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

With the World Juniors over we can go back
and look at how teams and performed over the tournament.  Much like scouts ranking Crouse at #3 in
prospect rankings, we can use this small sample size to making sweeping
generalizations about these players.

One of the fun areas to analyze is goalies given how
difficult they are to predict, how easily they are affected by variances and
how much they can effect the results of games. So let’s use what we know about goaltender analytics to see which were
the best goaltenders of the tournament.

The Statistics

As a reminder these goaltenders played a small sample size
of games and we cannot draw anything about their long-term success from this
data. Given the wider variance in talent
between countries in the tournament we can see some funky numbers and that
talent in front of goalies can negatively or positively the goaltenders. 

Here is all of the numbers we have for the goaltenders:

wjc goalies

The tournament average save percentage was .906 while
“replacement level” goaltending at this tournament was .874 save percentage.

Some of the columns are fairly self-explanatory, here is bit
more on the lesser known columns:

  • GP: Games Played – Unlike the NHL goalies are credited for a game played simply by dressing and sitting on the bench.
  • MIP: Minutes In Play, how many minutes & seconds a
    goaltender played during the tournament.
  • %MIP: The % of ice time the goaltender received to play for his country
  • SA/Min: Shots Against per Minute compares the workload each goalie received,
    the higher the number the more they were having to stop.  The goalies at the top of this list typically
    come from the countries that didn’t perform as well at the tournament.
  • GSAA: Goals
    Saved Above Average
    – how many more goals this goalie saved compared to if
    an average goalie had been in their position.
  • Svs% rel Avg: The goaltenders save percentage relative to the average of .906.
    Z-Score: How many
    standard deviations (0.0573) the goaltender is away from the tournament median
  • Starts: How many games the goaltender started the game in
  • QS: Quality Starts – the number of games the goaltender
    started and gave his team the best chance of winning.  That is the goaltender either was better than
    tournament average, or let in 2 goals or less and was still better than a
    replacement level goaltender.
  • RBS: Really Bad Starts – When a goaltender plays worse than
    a replacement level goaltender in a game.
  • BO: Bail Outs – When a goaltender is credited for a Really
    Bad Started and the team wins.

The Top Goaltenders

From these statistics we can figure out who gave their
country the best chance to win. The top
three are:

1. Denis Godla – Slovakia

I have to agree with the awards at the end of the tournament
that Denis Godla was the best goaltender of the tournament. His save percentage was not the highest,
infact it was right above the middle of the pack. That could be related to his high SA/Min and
the fact that Slovakia was bleeding

What made Godla worth of best goaltender is that he
consistently posted a Quality Start in five of the six games he started in and
he did not post any Really Bad Starts. He started in a total of 6 games and played in 7 when he came in as
relief during Slovakia’s first game taking over for Okolicany. His success is translated in having the
highest GSAA of all goaltenders in the tournament. 

Thanks largely in part to Godla, Slovakia was able to walk
away with the Bronze Medal!

2. Thatcher Demko – United States

Thatcher Demko had a really good tournament as a
goaltender. He started in 4 of 5 games
for the United States and posted save percentages well above average. In 3 of his four starts he posted a Quality
Start giving the USA the best chance to win. His workload was somewhat average and posts a high GSAA.

The only game where he did not was in the Quarter Finals to
Russia but he did not play bad enough to get credited with a Really Bad
Start. In a single-game elimination
tournament that’s how it goes, the winning team has the high PDO usually as a
result of high goaltending percentages.

3. Linus Soderstrom – Sweden

Linus Soderstrom had a fairly good tournament, until it was
most important to Sweden, and that is why he is not higher in this list. Through his first five games he posted
Quality Starts, and has a positive GSAA while facing a below average workload.

What hurts him most is that he was excellent until two most
important games. In the Semi-Finals
against Russia he posted a .871 which was considered a Really Bad Start, although Sweden’s offense didn’t help the
team either. Soderstrom wasn’t terrible in the brozne medal game, but he didn’t post a Quality
Start requiring the offence to win the game for them which they were ultimately not able
to do.

Fun Facts

  • My honourable mentions would go to: Igor Shestyorkin (RUS),
    Zach Fucale (CAN), Gauthier Descloux (SUI).
  • The worst performing goaltender for the tournament was a tie
    between Vitek Vanecek (CZE) and Kevin Recih (GER).
  • Despite Shestyorkin playing in the Semi-Finals and posting a
    Quality Start, Russia opted to go with Ilya Sorokin in the gold-medal match, who
    then went on to post a Really Bad Start his only one of the tournament. This is likely a calculated result to not
    play the tired goaltender in a back-to-back which did not pay off.
  • Only two Bail Outs were posted in this entire tournament,
    one by Czech goaltender Vanecek. Zach
    Fucale posted the other BO in the Gold Medal match. Fucale let in 4 goals on 30 shots good for a
    .867, and a Really Bad Start. Had the
    Canadian offense not showed up to bail him out the results would have been similar
    to the 2011 Gold Medal Match when Canada let in 5 unanswered goals in the third
    period to Russia losing 5-3.