DETROIT -- Steven Stamkos can't say his timeline has moved up because there's no specific return date set. But the Tampa Bay Lightning star forward is back on the ice, which is remarkable considering it's been just more than a month since he broke his tibia on Nov. 11.
Cameras caught him skating lightly before the Lightning took the ice in Saturday morning's practice prior to their 3-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils, and that wasn't even the first time he's been on the ice since crashing into the net in Boston.
"I've been on a couple times," Stamkos told ESPN The Magazine on Sunday following Tampa Bay's 3-0 win over Detroit. "Obviously that one, the first time in front of cameras. Everyone got a glimpse of that. It's kind of baby steps right now. To be able to get back on the ice, to be out there when the guys are coming for morning skate, pass the puck with some of the guys, you miss that part. Things are definitely on the right track."
Stamkos had X-rays at the four-week mark last week and said the results were better than expected. He'll continue to get X-rays every two weeks until he's ready to start skating at full strength.
But he knows he's not there yet.
"I'm not having any pain when I have my foot in the skate. I'm doing the little drills I have been doing," Stamkos said. "You know it's not 100 percent healed. ... That's the thing where I have to pull the reins on myself a little bit where it feels great, but it's that one little move that can create the setback."
He continues to target a return in time for February's Winter Olympics in Sochi and, while helping the Lightning remains his priority, playing for Team Canada is providing him that extra motivation in rehab.
"I'm a pretty goal-oriented guy -- that's a goal I do have," Stamkos said. "If it happens that I do have a chance to go to Sochi, that's what I'm using as motivation."