When Victor Hedman returned to the lineup after missing 13 games because of a concussion, he did not plan to play it safe.

The Lightning defenseman was going to hit and be hit, get into traffic, battle for pucks, prove to himself right away he was 100 percent healthy.

"I told myself to go out and play hard," Hedman said. "You'd rather be a little too aggressive at the beginning, try to make some hits and play the way I can."

It has been only four games, but he might have even taken a step forward. In a season that could be a nonplayoff disappointment for Tampa Bay, Hedman, 21, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2009 draft, is laying the groundwork for future success.

"I think this is just the beginning," coach Guy Boucher said. "I really do."