Editorials

Chicago Blackhawks: A Look at Henri Jokiharju’s Surprising Start

By Samuel Boland
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 23: Henri Jokiharju #28 of the Chicago Blackhawks waits for the face-off against the Anaheim Ducks in the second period at the United Center on October 23, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Anaheim Ducks 3-1. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 23: Henri Jokiharju #28 of the Chicago Blackhawks waits for the face-off against the Anaheim Ducks in the second period at the United Center on October 23, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Anaheim Ducks 3-1. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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Chicago Blackhawks
COLUMBUS, OH – OCTOBER 20: Henri Jokiharju #28 of the Chicago Blackhawks skates against the Columbus Blue Jackets on October 20, 2018 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Chicago defeated Columbus 4-1. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Jokiharju and the Blackhawks

Henri Jokiharju leads the teenage defensemen in most major scoring categories and that doesn’t differ much when discussing the Blackhawks, either. Though Brent Seabrook leads the team defensemen in goals (2), Jokiharju still leads in both points and assists with 8.

As we mentioned at the beginning, the Chicago Blackhawks +/- is a complete mess excluding Jokes and Keith, so I decided to take look into each players CF%.

Corsi is a solid way of quantifying just how effective a player is on the ice, and Jokiharju’s number’s don’t disappoint. Essentially, a player’s CF% takes their CF (shots + blocks + misses for) and divides it by CF + CA (Corsi against).

Above 50% indicates that when that specific player is on the ice, their team controls the puck more often than not. Here’s how Henri Jokiharju stacks up against his fellow Blackhawks defensemen.

CF% 

  1. Keith, 55.4%
  2. Jokiharju, 54.8
  3. Erik Gustafsson, 52.0%
  4. Jan Rutta, 50.3%
  5. Manning, 49.3%
  6. Seabrook, 48.7%
  7. Brandon Davidson, 47.7%

Looking at this, it should come as no surprise that Keith, Jokiharju and Gustafsson are the defensemen leading the Chicago Blackhawks in ice time.

Jokiharju is obviously having a positive impact on the Blackhawks in both scoring, defense and now puck possession. Furthermore, he’s making a difference on the play of his teammates, too.

Duncan Keith, being the seasoned veteran that he is, was supposed to be there to guide Jokiharju, to carry him at times and to cover him when he made mistakes. While he’s still doing these things, this relationship looks to be more mutually beneficial than you’d think.

"“He allows me to play my game,” said Keith. “For 19 years old, he’s pretty poised. He’s a great skater, he’s good with the puck, makes smart plays, good defensively. He’s ahead of his age, that’s for sure. Defense isn’t an easy position to break into, and he’s doing it like a veteran. So it’s impressive.”"

Statistically speaking, Jokiharju passes all the tests. Through 15 games, it looks as if he’s passing the eye test as well.

When the Chicago Blackhawks faced off against the Edmonton Oilers for the first time this season, Jokiharju faced one of his toughest matchups yet, Connor McDavid. Here’s how he fared, in the words of Mark Lazerus:

"“Jokiharju played a whopping 13:22 of 5-on-5 time against the best player in the world, Connor McDavid. The Hawks out-attempted the Oilers 20-9 and out-chanced the Oilers 13-4 in those 13 minutes.”"

Yeah, that’s pretty damn good.

All things considering, it’s still easy to be pessimistic about the Chicago Blackhawks – especially after their recent five game skid. That said, this is exactly why I encourage you all to take a moment and appreciate Henri Jokiharju.

At only 19 years old, Jokiharju is looking to be one of the best rookie defensemen and, additionally, one of the best on the Blackhawks. So much so, that GM Stan Bowman is questioning whether or not Adam Boqvist can do the same thing next season.

Next. Blackhawks Problems on Full Display in Oilers Loss. dark

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So for today, ignore the standings, ignore the lack of scoring depth, ignore the bad free agent signings and ignore the $4.7 million in cap space that the team hasn’t done anything with. Instead, take the time to appreciate the success of our beautiful baby boy, Henri Jokiharju.

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