Thursday January 16th, 2014

Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning Steven Stamkos seems to have healing powers on a par with his ability to score goals. (Dave Reginek/Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

It's been anything but baby steps for Steven Stamkos as he works toward a return from the broken leg he suffered in a full-speed collision with a goalpost back in November. From walking just days after surgery to lacing up his skates one month later, the Lightning winger continues to defy medical timetables in his effort to make it back in time to help Tampa Bay take a run at the playoffs … and maybe chip in with Canada's efforts to win another gold medal in Sochi.

Word of another improbably early step in his recovery is hardly surprising at this point, but it's still worth noting. Especially when it's news like this:

Yeah, that's a big moment because it means that Stamkos is ready to attempt the fast pace of a full-on practice. And if he can handle it again on Friday with no lingering discomfort, that's another big step. It's tough to say at this point when Stamkos will be ready for contact -- the final hurdle -- but word on that could come in the next 10 days. Lightning broadcaster Phil Esposito said on NHL Home Ice last week that he believed Stamkos would be back in uniform at some point during the team's four-game road trip that starts Jan. 28 in Toronto. That's an opinion, but based on Stamkos' Wolverine-like healing ability, it might also be right on target.

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