DNA applies to hockey. No two players skate the same, although the ideal skating stride is taught universally. Nathan MacKinnon, the Avalanche’s 22-year-old center and NHL player of the month for November, is an exceptional skater with an extraordinarily powerful stride. If he had a nickname, Two Steps would apply. That’s all he needs to blow past a defender. “Fastest skater I’ve ever played with,” linemate Mikko Rantanen said of MacKinnon, who produced 20 points (five goals) in 12 games last month. MacKinnon, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft, went straight from juniors to winning the 2014 Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year at age 18. He’s in his fifth NHL season, but sometimes still needs to be reminded to use his greatest gift. “I don’t notice it as much as you guys might. I’m just skating like everyone else,” MacKinnon said. “I might be faster than others, but I try to use it as best as I can. I know it’s an advantage I have. It helps myself and my teammates. It creates space for my linemates, whether that’s backing the D or taking them wide or just getting open in the neutral zone. It’s obviously very helpful. It’s a big part of today’s game.” A typical NHL player needs four to six steps to attain full speed. But MacKinnon is already utilizing his inside edges and gliding with two swift leg swoops while others are still chopping at the ice like a sprinter. He realized his gift between the ages of 8-10, when he would carry the puck end-to-end and have “no problem scoring a lot of goals” against his childhood peers in Dartmouth, Halifax, Nova Scotia.