Monday, December 18, 2017


Joe Smith, Times staff writer

Joe Smith, Times staff writer

Joe Smith became the Tampa Bay Lightning beat writer for the Tampa Bay Times in 2014. He spent the previous six years splitting time covering the Rays, Bucs and Lightning He joined the Times in 2006 after spending two years with the Modesto Bee in California, where he did everything from covering the Single-A Modesto Nuts minor league baseball team and high school football to tackling first-person stories on whitewater rafting and adventure racing. Smith grew up in the Detroit suburbs and attended the University of Michigan, where he covered the football, basketball and hockey teams for the Michigan Daily. He freelanced for the Associated Press and Detroit Free Press before securing internships at Crain's Detroit Business and the Raleigh News & Observer. An avid runner, Smith loves traveling, bowling and singing karaoke.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, left, of Sweden, congratulates goalie Peter Budaj, of Slovakia, after time ran out in the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, in Denver. The Lightning won 6-5. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) CODZ117

Lightning has goalie Peter Budaj’s back after near-collapse

LAS VEGAS — After the Avalanche made a seemingly insurmountable Lightning lead shaky Saturday night, defenseman Victor Hedman was the first to skate toward backup goalie Peter Budaj and give an encouraging pat on the pads with his stick.Budaj’s...
Published: 12/17/17

Joe Smith’s takeaways from Lightning-Avalanche

Could tell just how much Ryan Callahan meant in the Lightning dressing room by hearing teammates talk about his latest injury. Steven Stamkos said he was "sick to my stomach." Brayden Point called him a "heart and soul player." Teammates all saw how...
Published: 12/16/17
DIRK SHADD   |   Times  
Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan (24) before heading out of the locker room and down the tunnel for warm ups before taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening (10/12/17).

Lightning journal: No easy answers on replacing injured Ryan Callahan

The good news for the Lightning is that GM Steve Yzerman is hopeful RW Ryan Callahan will be ready to go in 3-4 weeks when his upper body injury is re-evaluated. The hard part, however, is finding someone to replace the veteran wing. "I...
Published: 12/16/17
Tampa Bay Lightning director of player development Stacy Roest, left, and Tampa Bay Lightning Syracuse Crunch Head Coach Benoit Groulx attend the Lightning Development Camp on Tuesday (6/27/17) at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum in Brandon. (Douglas R. Clifford, Times)

Q&A with Syracuse coach Benoit Groulx about the Lightning’s next generation

DENVER — There might be one team in hockey hotter than the Lightning.It is Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate, Syracuse.The Crunch has won 10 straight after Friday’s victory over Providence. Why is this important? While the AHL is a developmental...
Published: 12/16/17
Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) celebrates a he scores beating Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) to go up 3 to 1 during third period action at at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening (10/26/17). The goal went on to be the game winner as the Bolts won 3-2. (Dirk Shadd, Times)

When you think you’ve got Brayden Point figured out, a surprise awaits

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Center Brayden Point is the Lightning’s calmest player, both on the ice and off, according to Victor Hedman.Point’s soft-spoken nature belies his baby face and 5-foot-10 frame. "I’ve never seen him angry before," Hedman...
Published: 12/15/17
Vladislav Namestnikov taps in a goal as Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta and defenseman Jason Demers are caught out of position. [Associated Press]

Lightning routs Coyotes for sixth straight win

GLENDALE, Ariz. — As much as the Lightning has been rolling, it remembered how it lost twice last season to the Coyotes.That included blowing a one-goal third-period lead at home down the stretch, with Tampa Bay missing the playoffs by a...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
DIRK SHADD   |   Times  
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) looks on before a face-off during third period action at Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening (12/07/17).

Lightning’s Mikhail Sergachev earns more minutes, praise

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Coyotes center Clayton Keller is very familiar with fellow rookie Mikhail Sergachev, the dynamic Lightning defenseman. They both were top 10 picks in 2016, Keller at No. 7 and Sergachev No. 9 to Montreal. They faced each other...
Published: 12/14/17
St. Louis Blues' Brayden Schenn, left, is unable to score past Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Andrei Vasilevskiy’s dreams are coming true

GLENDALE, Ariz — Nikita Kucherov’s toughest challenge isn’t facing Canadiens goalie Carey Price, or Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky.It comes in practice against Andrei Vasilevskiy. "I’ve been saying, I thought he was going to be the top...
Published: 12/13/17
The Lightning's Tyler Johnson (9) looks down at the puck as St. Louis Blues' Paul Stastny (26) watches during the first period of Tuesday's game in St. Louis. [AP Photo/Jeff Roberson]

Switch to wing helps Lightning’s Tyler Johnson

ST. LOUIS — Tyler Johnson hasn’t played very much wing in his career, primarily sticking to his natural center position. But lately, Johnson has been stellar on the right side.Johnson’s assist in Tuesday’s win over the Blues extended his...
Published: 12/13/17
St. Louis Blues' Kyle Brodziak, right,  is unable to score past Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, of Russia, during the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) MOJR101

Lightning opens road trip with shutout of Blues

ST. LOUIS — This showdown was supposed to be about the best team in the East versus the best in the West. In reality, the Lightning’s 3-0 win over the Blues on Tuesday night pretty much came down to this:Andrei Vasilevskiy is one of the...
Published: 12/12/17