TAMPA -- The day is coming when the Tampa Bay Lightning will be Steven Stamkos' team.
Probably pretty soon.
After all, franchise icon Vincent Lecavalier has moved on and his successor as captain, Martin St. Louis, is 38.
Nonetheless, Stamkos -- one of the NHL's top young talents since he broke into the league in 2008 -- made it clear before facing the Penguins Saturday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum that he's in no hurry to take over as the Lightning's undisputed leader.
"I want Marty to stay here as long as possible and be able to play with him for as long as I can," he said. "You just try to learn from that. I've been fortunate to have learned from him for the past 5 1/2 years."
One thing Stamkos didn't have to learn from St. Louis is how to score goals. He has captured the Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL's top goal-producer once and shared it with Sidney Crosby on another occasion.
Stamkos is on the short list of favorites to earn the Richard this season, too, but he expects the competition to be fierce.
"You're going to see a lot of familiar faces, probably," he said. "There are so many good goal-scorers. You've got [Washington's Alexander Ovechkin], Sid, [Evgeni] Malkin. [San Jose's Patrick] Marleau is always up in the mix.
"There are so many great players. I think [New York Islanders center] John Tavares is a guy who's going to be up there. He's an unbelievable player. There are so many guys. Everyone's in the mix until the end.
"Unless someone really comes out and has an unbelievable year, you know it's always going to be close, and it's great for the game that way."
Glass is half-full this year
Tanner Glass, the Penguins' fourth-line left winger, put up a goal and two assists in the first four games of the season.
Nice numbers, especially for a guy in his blue-collar role, but not necessarily eye-catching ones.
Except that they surpassed Glass' output in 48 games last season, his first with the Penguins, when he managed just one goal and an assist.
"It's funny, because you do the same things, you go to the same areas and just try to play physical, and sometimes the puck bounces for you and sometimes it doesn't," he said.
"It's tough to say that whenever it goes 45 games or whatever it did last year, but in the job we're in, if you try to be a defensive position all the time and defensive responsibilities are your main focus, you might not get a bounce for a few games."
The Penguins did not have a game-day skate, but six players -- including injured defenseman Kris Letang and winger Matt D'Agostini -- worked out on the ice around midday.
The others were defensemen Deryk Engelland and Robert Bortuzzo and goalies Marc-Andre Fleury and Jeff Zatkoff.
Letang has taken contact the past two days and, barring a setback, could take part in a full practice with his teammates as early as Monday.
D'Agostini is expected to return to practice Wednesday or Friday, but coach Dan Bylsma said he does not know when injured right winger James Neal might do so.
Lightening Lindback's load
Tampa Bay faced the Penguins after allowing nine goals in its first four games.
That's an average of 2.25 per game, a significant drop from the 3.06 the Lightning gave up last season.
And while it could be risky to read too much into a small sample size, upgrading its team defense is one of Tampa Bay's priorities.
"It's the team perspective, all six guys out there," goalie Anders Lindback said. "We simplified the system. We have more defensive thinking, the whole core of the group.
"The forwards are taking more responsibility, which helps out the [defensemen]. That really adds up to where we're going. We're going to keep building."
First Published October 12, 2013 8:00 PM