Joe Smith, Times Staff Writer

Joe Smith

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.

Phone: (813) 310 9024



Lightning Strikes

  1. Callahan skates, but still week-to-week; Paquette called up


    There was a surprise late arrival for the Lightning's morning skate Friday, with RW Ryan Callahan jumping on the ice near the end.

    "Cally!" one player yelled.

    It was the first time Callahan, 29, skated since suffering a lower-body injury in the second period of Monday's game. Callahan was cautious in his strides, and did some shooting, with coach Jon Cooper saying the veteran is still "week-to-week."...

  2. Lightning likes its defense, wants more offense

    Lightning Strikes

    WINNIPEG — From day one of camp, Lightning coach Jon Cooper preached to his team being better protecting its own net.

    And Tampa Bay has done just that, allowing 1.86 goals per through its first seven heading into tonight's matchup with the Jets. The Lightning's 24.9 shots allowed per game ranks fourth in the league.

    The problem, however, has been putting pucks in the net. Aside from a seven-goal outburst against the Canadiens on Oct. 13, the Lightning (4-2-1) has a combined 14 goals in the other six. Seven goals have come on the power play....

    In Tuesday’s overtime win in Calgary, Valtteri Filppula, left, gave the Lightning what it needs more of by scoring off a rebound. “We need some ugly goals,’’ says Ondrej Palat, who scored the winner off a rebound against the Flames.
  3. Lightning-Jets preview

    Lightning Strikes


    Lightning at Jets

    When/where: 8; MTS Centre, Winnipeg

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM

    Key stats: The Jets (2-4-0) have struggled, with lack of offense a big reason why. They are averaging 1.83 goals per game, going 0-for-19 on the power play. Not having star LW Evander Kane (knee) since the season opener hasn't helped. Winnipeg is strong on penalty kill (92.3 percent). G Ben Bishop is expected to start for Tampa Bay. The teams split the two-game series last season....

  4. Gudas could return Friday, Killorn getting closer


    The Lightning got some encouraging news on the injury front Thursday, with defenseman Radko Gudas and wing Alex Killorn returning to practice.

    Gudas, out since Oct 14 with a lower body injury, said he feels much better and is ready to play Friday vs Jets. He was paired with Jason Garrison at Thursday's practice in Calgary. Coach Jon Cooper said Gudas could return tomorrow.

    Killorn has been out since suffering an upper body injury sliding into the boards in Monday's morning skate in Edmonton. Killorn said he lost his footing when taking a pass and hit his shoulder/head hard into the boards. He says it was a scary moment, feeling fortunate it wasn't worse. Killorn said he had no concussion symptoms and while he's feeling better, not likely to return Friday....

  5. Jonathan Drouin set to be 'impact player' with Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    CALGARY — It was all set up for a storybook ending Tuesday night.

    Lightning rookie wing Jonathan Drouin, 19, playing in his second NHL game, raced down the left side on a two-on-one with captain Steven Stamkos in overtime against the Flames. A nightmare combination for any opponent in coming years, it was a dream for Drouin, whose parents, Serge and Brigitte, were sitting eight rows behind the Calgary net, anxiously awaiting their son's first goal....

    Jonathan Drouin skates against the Calgary Flames Tuesday in Calgary. [Getty Images]
  6. For Palat, game-winner was redemption


    Lightning wing Ondrej Palat said he beat himself up after his turnover led to the Oilers' winning goal late in the third period Monday.

    "I felt terrible," he said. "I know I owed the team something."

    Palat certainly delivered Tuesday, picking up the game-winning goal in Tuesday's 2-1 overtime victory over the Flames in Calgary. Three minutes into overtime, Palat pounced on a rebound off a point shot from Anton Stralman and put it past goalie Karri Ramo....

  7. Late dramatics boost Lightning past Flames

    Lightning Strikes

    CALGARY — As injuries continue to mount for the Lightning, coach Jon Cooper said his team just needs to "rise to the occasion."

    Tampa Bay did just that in Tuesday's 2-1 overtime victory over the Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The Lightning was minutes from being shut out, and handed a second deflating loss in as many nights, when Valtteri Filppula tied the score with 2:16 left, knocking in a rebound off Jason Garrison's rocket shot from the point....

    The Lightning’s J.T. Brown, right, checks Josh Jooris during the first period. Brown later fought with Calgary’s Mark Giordano.
  8. Jonathan Drouin feels excitement after Lightning debut

    Lightning Strikes

    CALGARY — Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin said he received several congratulatory messages after making his NHL debut Monday night. He heard from family, friends, as well as coaches spanning from his junior and midget teams.

    "It was exciting," Drouin said. "You dream about it since you're young to play here. And to play in Canada, too, is something special."

    Drouin, 19, said he found out about five hours before Monday's 3-2 loss to the Oilers that he'd play, thanks to an upper-body injury suffered by wing Alex Killorn during the morning skate. Drouin, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, admitted he was nervous as he came out for warmups at the raucous Rexall Place, but settled in after a few shifts....

    Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin skates during the warmup before his first NHL game on Monday against the Oilers in Edmonton.
  9. Dinged-up Lightning recalls forward Mike Blunden

    Lightning Strikes

    CALGARY — With the Lightning losing two top-six forwards to injury Monday, it recalled RW Mike Blunden on Tuesday from Syracuse of the American Hockey League.

    LW Alex Killorn (upper body) was day to day after taking a scary spill into the boards during Monday's morning skate. RW Ryan Callahan (lower body), who left Monday's 3-2 loss to Edmonton in the second period, will likely be out longer. Coach Jon Cooper first called Callahan week to week then clarified....

    CALGARY, AB - OCTOBER 21: Mikael Backlund #11 and Ladislav Smid #15 of the Calgary Flames chase Michael Blunden #46 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on October 21, 2014 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images) 507046537
  10. Lightning recall Blunden from Syracuse, Gudas to IR


    With the Lightning losing two wings to injury Monday, it called up forward Mike Blunden Tuesday from AHL Syracuse.

    While Cedric Paquette and Jonathan Marchessault were also options, Blunden, at 6-foot-3, 214 pounds, brings some needed size for a game tonight against a physical Flames team in Calgary.

    Blunden, 27, has two goals and three assists in four games for the Crunch this season. He's played in 102 career NHL games over parts of seven seasons with the Blackhawks, Canadiens and Blue Jackets, signing with the Lightning July 1....

  11. Lightning loses two forwards plus game to Oilers

    Lightning Strikes

    EDMONTON — Coach Jon Cooper half-jokingly said Monday morning that touted wing prospect Jonathan Drouin was bound to make his anticipated debut soon because his team was running out of bodies at forward.

    Turns out, that was what happened as Drouin was a late add to the lineup against the Oilers after wing Alex Killorn suffered an upper-body injury in the morning skate.

    Drouin, 19, rated the league's top prospect, was as advertised, but the Lightning wasn't in a sloppy 3-2 loss to the Oilers, who picked up their first win of the season....

    Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin, center, makes his NHL debut in Monday’s defeat at Edmonton after being added to the lineup late due to Alex Killorn’s injury. See notebook, 5C
  12. Oilers' Teddy Purcell gets together with old Lightning teammates

    Lightning Strikes


    Times Staff Writer

    EDMONTON — For wing Teddy Purcell, it felt like old times Sunday afternoon, watching football with most of the Lightning team during lunch.

    But Purcell, 29, is now with the Oilers thanks to a June trade, so he made sure to treat a handful of his former Tampa Bay teammates, including good buddy Steven Stamkos, for dinner in their first night in Edmonton....

    Teddy Purcell (16) watches as Dustin Brown  (23) of the Kings scores past a sprawling Ben Scrivens earlier this month in Los Angeles. [Getty Images]
  13. Jonathan Drouin makes debut for Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    EDMONTON — Considering how long touted wing prospect Jonathan Drouin had to wait for his NHL debut, it was fitting he got into the lineup at the last minute Monday night.

    Drouin, 19, was called up Sunday from a two-game conditioning assignment with Syracuse in the American Hockey League, but wasn't supposed to play against the Oilers.

    However, LW Alex Killorn suffered an upper body injury in a scary spill into the boards at Monday's morning skate and was a late scratch, thrusting Drouin into action....

    Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin (27) skates during the warm up before facing off for his first NHL game against the Edmonton Oilers in Edmonton, Alberta., on Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Amber Bracken) AKB103
  14. Victor Hedman to miss 4-6 weeks after surgery

    Lightning Strikes

    EDMONTON — Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman will be out 4-6 weeks, after surgery today on a fractured finger in his right hand.

    Hedman, 23, suffered the injury blocking a shot during Saturday's 4-2 win over Vancouver. Though without its top defenseman potentially through November, Tampa Bay feels fortunate as it could have been worse.

    "If it's ligaments, then you have no idea what you're dealing with (in recovery time)," coach Jon Cooper said. "If you're getting clean breaks, that's just a fix it up, stabilize and wait for it to heal and he'll be back. It's just really unfortunate for Heddy because how good a player he's becoming and what a great start he had. But injuries happen and we're going to have to weather the storm for a month."...

    Victor Hedman
  15. Drouin will make NHL debut tonight


    Turns out, touted wing prospect Jonathan Drouin will make his NHL debut tonight against the Oilers after all.

    While coach Jon Cooper insisted this morning Drouin would not play, things must have changed due to the status of wing Alex Killorn, who took a scary spill into the boards during today's morning skate. Cooper said Killorn was okay, just got the wind knocked out of him, but the team said Killorn is day-to-day with an upper body injury....