He's 23 and it's still like a dream.

Lightning rookie and Ontario native Cory Conacher is playing on a scoring line with Vinny Lecavalier and Ryan Malone. He sits next to Lecavalier in the Lightning dressing room, not far from Marty St. Louis, whom he pretended to be during pick-up games as a kid, one mighty mite saluting another.

Recently, coach Guy Boucher threw Conacher out there with Marty and Steven Stamkos.

"That was a definite 'wow' factor," Conacher said. "But you stay focused. I can pinch myself in the summer."

The 5-foot-8 Conacher has burst on the scene as the Bolts have broken 5-1, displaying speed, fearlessness and a buzz-saw intensity. He scored in his first NHL game. Tuesday against Florida, Conacher scored his third goal and added an assist — already his fourth multi-point game. He leads all NHL rookies with nine points.

And when he gets in his first NHL fight (and that is coming, because the kid will go) he should attain cult status at the Forum. It nearly happened Tuesday after Conacher battled in front of the Panthers' net. Battling, always battling, is how Conacher got here.

"A guy on their team wanted to fight me," Conacher said with a smile. "He was on the bench and he said he wanted to fight me next shift."

We're not quite sure who is taller, St. Louis or Conacher. They joke about it. Conacher isn't joking when describing what St. Louis' star means to him

"I say it all the time — he was the guy I wanted to be," Conacher said.