Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will need more than Infinite Patience, the name of his prize three-year-old filly, to ever grow a Grizzly Adams playoff beard or the stylish mutton chops of teammate Zack Kassian.
But even with a nifty Auston Matthews-type moustache, it’s not how he looks, it’s how he works alongside Connor McDavid in the NHL’s return to play.
At the first day of Phase 3 Monday, Nugent-Hopkins, who had 41 of his 61 points since New Year’s Eve, was on the same left side with McDavid and Kassian as he was for the last half dozen games before the NHL pause.
He wasn’t on left wing with Leon Draisaitl — who’s going to be be named the Ted Lindsay award winner Tuesday as NHL’s best player as voted by the players — and right-winger Kailer Yamamoto making up the hottest Edmonton Oilers line for two months.
So that answers one of the big questions.
“I’ve played before with Connor at the world championship, we were together all the time,” said Nugent-Hopkins, the most portable Oilers forward. “I know both Leon and Connor’s games very well and while they have different styles, for sure, the big thing is to be ready for the puck. Connor has the explosive speed, of course, and when I get the puck I have to think: ‘Where is he?’’’