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Suzuki Impresses in Second Game of Prospects Showcase

First-round pick bounces back with five-point (1g, 4a) night

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

NASHVILLE - The morning after the Carolina Hurricanes were thwacked 10-3 by the Washington Capitals in the opening game of the 2019 NHL Prospects Showcase, a pair of Ryans - Suzuki, the Canes' 28th overall selection from this summer, and Warsofsky, the head coach of the prospect team - sat down to digest video.

The first game of the Showcase was eye-opening for Suzuki and much of the young, invite-heavy Hurricanes prospect team. This was a new, more advanced level of quicker, more physical hockey, and they were facing a veteran Capitals squad.

Suzuki didn't have his best game - and neither did the team at large, outside of the handful of players who had professional experience to their name already - but for an 18-year-old dipping his toes into the water at this level, it wasn't all that surprising and certainly not unprecedented.

"He was shocked by it and surprised by it," Warsofsky said. "He's a first-rounder. He's expected to light up the scoresheet, and sometimes it doesn't go that way. It's not that easy. He's a young kid who is learning. He's going to get better and better every day."

What mattered more than Suzuki's performance in the first game was how he would respond the very next day against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"We're going to dive into the video and try to teach these kids," Warsofsky said after the first game. "Some of these kids haven't been taught the right way to play pro hockey. It takes some time."

Forget dipping his toes. Suzuki jumped right in and swam, leading the way offensively for the Hurricanes with a game-high five points (1g, 4a) in a 7-4 victory. As much as the first game was eye-opening for Suzuki, the second game was just as so because of him.

GAME 2 RECAP | GAME 1 RECAP | SHOWCASE PRIMER | ROSTER (PDF)

"I felt a lot better," he said. "The biggest thing for me was I just had to have a good start. You can't take a breath. That's what coach has been saying. You can't take a breath or they're just going to jump right on you. I think the whole game I just tried to move my feet as much as I could. Everything just clicked."

From the final whistle on Saturday to the drop of the puck on Sunday, Suzuki elevated his game and flaunted his elite, playmaking skillset that the Hurricanes coveted when they had him ranked just a few spots out of the top 10 on their master draft list.

He played with speed. He played with skill. And, he was rewarded for it.

"He understood what it takes to play at this level," Warsofsky said. "He was proactive with his feet and got going a little bit quicker."

Suzuki used his quick feet to get to a loose puck at the top of the crease in the first period, which opened the scoring in the game. He capped his performance with a trio of assists in the third period.

In the five-player postgame shootout, a confident Suzuki scored on a smooth forehand-backhand move to add to his impressive evening.

Tweet from @MSmithCanes: In addition to totaling five points (1g, 4a), Ryan Suzuki scored on this nifty backhander in the postgame funsies shootout. pic.twitter.com/UgRFnVZt72

His performance was illustrative of his abilities that made him a first-round pick.

"The definition of speed and skill," Director of Player Personnel Darren Yorke said in Vancounver this summer. "You look at a guy who can really drive possession and carry the puck into the offensive zone. He can make plays on both sides of the puck. He's really the definition of the playmaking center that you really covet."

A talented (and 2-0) Nashville Predators prospect squad is up next.

This time, though, Suzuki has a better idea of what to expect and what it will take to be competitive at a higher level.

"The biggest thing is consistency," he said. "You have to work for every puck, every inch you're given out there. I've learned a lot already, and it's only been two days."

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